Lancashire 438 & 8-1 Hampshire 215: Hampshire left dazed by flying Cork's masterclass

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It would appear that all eyes, including those of the Hampshire batsmen, were on the England bowler James Anderson yesterday, as he continued his return to competitive cricket after a stress fracture of the back.

But the man Hampshire should have watched more closely was a former Test bowler, Dominic Cork. The 35-year-old, one-time Derbyshire all-rounder and captain, steamed in like a player 11 years his junior - which Anderson is - to produce a blistering spell after tea.

In the space of 14 balls Cork, who generated wicked bounce, reduced the Hampshire reply to rubble as he picked up four wickets for eight runs and ensured that Lancashire would collect maximum bowling points to keep abreast of Sussex, their rivals for the County Championship.

As for Anderson, Lancashire did not even need to use his full ration of 12 overs and the 10 overs he did bowl - split into three spells of four, three, three - were wicketless, although not runless.

The decision not to enforce the follow-on with Lancashire 223 runs to the good - Anderson claiming the last wicket with a direct hit from mid-off to run out James Tomlinson - might well have been dictated by Cork's physical state following his magnificent effort, coupled with the fact Anderson is short of match practice.

The only solid resistance to Cork, and latterly to Tom Smith, who finished with a commendable 3 for 20 to add to his batting feat earlier in the day, came from a Lancashire batsman.

John Crawley was a real thorn in this Lancashire side as he dug in and passed fifty for the 13th time in 27 Championship innings this season. But his fall came in that "Corking" spell and Hampshire were doomed. They cannot finish second now. If Sussex lift the Championship, Lancashire are guaranteed the runners-up spot and the £40,000 that goes with it.

Earlier, Lancashire supporters began the day wondering if their team could acquire maximum batting points, and their anxieties were intensified in the first over of the morning when Luke Sutton fell lbw to James Bruce.

But help appeared from an unlikely quarter in the form of a patient ninth-wicket stand between Kartik Murali and fast bowler Smith. They chiselled their way into five-bonus-point territory. The 88 runs they eventually realised came off just 19 overs and took Lancashire past the 400 mark, which helped to set a total that ultimately proved far too much for Hampshire.

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