But Lancashire's route to victory became less straightforward when Michael Powell and Tony Frost put on 81 in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand. A one-day total of 236 is not exactly forbidding, but it often is not easy, especially when a world-class bowler like Makhaya Ntini gets two early wickets.
Then Mal Loye refused to walk when Warwickshire insisted that an edge had carried to slip. The umpires would not give him out. Cries of "cheat" came from partisans. In the next over the ball ballooned to third slip off some part of Andrew Symonds, but not, it appears, off bat or glove. Tension rose.
Two overs later, Symonds swiped at Neil Carter's first ball and skied a catch to backward square-leg. At 31 for 3, Lancashire's task was looking very difficult, but then Loye hit the next ball square for four, and another to the square-leg boundary. What originally looked "fairly easy" was now in a state of "not impossible". Lancashire shored the innings up for a while, but the task became quite impossible when they lost their last five wickets for 14 runs. One-day cricket may be a quick fix, but you have to admit that it can be a bloody good game.
It was a bright morning when Lancashire won the toss and asked Warwickshire to bat. Lancashire are a Division Two team, Warwickshire Division One, but Lancashire had three accomplished Australians and probably started favourites, as long as they did not let Nick Knight off the hook.
Knight has been unputdownable in C&G games this summer (289 runs in three innings), but he was not put down by Iain Sutcliffe at mid-off when he spooned Symonds' slower ball. Warwick-shire were 72 for 2 off 18 overs. The scoring rate moved up a gear when Jim Troughton joined Jonathan Trott, but batting suddenly looked a lot less easy when Lancashire's fifth and sixth bowlers were performing in tandem.
Marcus North was little known outside Durham when he joined Lancashire as Brad Hodge's replacement, but he is sufficiently well known in Australia to be included in their A team to tour Pakistan in the autumn. Sajid Mahmood is a Lancashire lad, of course. North is an off-spinner, Mahmood fast-medium, and together they inflicted severe damage on Warwickshire's middle order.
Warren Hegg stumped Troughton and Trevor Penney off North, and caught Trott and Alex Loudon when they drove and edged Mahmood. North dealt with Dougie Brown, for whom a benefit collection was taking place in the ground at the time, first ball. Otherwise he might have collected even more than £3,284. It is a hard life.
Frost and Powell did not win any style prizes. They played across the line, and sometimes used their wrists, to score heavily on the leg side. Frost's batting, plus three catches, made him man of the match. When they finished, Warwickshire had a total to bowl at. It was not as much as Knight wanted, but it had given them momentum. They defended like demons.
Loye and Stuart Law put on 49 before Loye drove loosely and was caught at midwicket. Mark Chilton, Lancashire's captain, did not manage a captain's innings. He was out when the score was 90. Dominic Cork hung around for a while with Law, but when he had scored 16 he gave an easy return catch to Loudon.
That was 123 for 6, and the scoring rate needed to win was rising fast, but not half as fast as Warwickshire were taking wickets. When Law was gone, caught by Frost with not a single run added, what started as fairly easy and then became possible, then difficult, had become absolutely impossible. Chilton remarked: "We were just not up to it." And the inevitable talk about choking had begun.Reuse content