There were frustrated Lancastrians all over the country yesterday. While Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson struggled to take Australian wickets in the third Test at Edgbaston, their county colleagues were huffing and puffing but failing to blow Yorkshire away at Old Trafford.
Lancashire foundered on the twin rocks of Jacques Rudolph and Andrew Gale, who both hit centuries to guide their side to 354 for 4 and a crucial draw. Despite their defiant third-wicket partnership of 218 in 60 overs – and the efforts of Jonathan Bairstow, son of former Tyke wicketkeeper David, who scored an unbeaten 52 – Yorkshire are still rooted in a First Division relegation battle but at least they took five points from this fixture when, at the start of the final day, it was looking like they might have to settle for one.
Lancashire's stand-in captain Luke Sutton admitted the result was somewhat hard to bear."It was frustrating because we were always in control of the game, and we played exceptionally well," said Sutton. "The wicket died a death, we didn't get the chances, and Rudolph and Gale batted exceptionally well.
"We probably needed a couple of early wickets this morning, and it became a very long day for us. We had high hopes this morning. They batted a lot better in this innings than they did in the first, and it made for a very different picture."
Another side who improved markedly on their effort in the first innings was Kent, who stole what had looked an unlikely victory by three wickets over Derbyshire at Canterbury, in the process extending their lead at the top of the Second Division to 18 points. Kent, bowled out for 289 in their first innings, raced to their target of 318 in 71 overs having taken Derbyshire's last six wickets for 67 runs in the morning session.
Robert Key, whose faint England hopes have been boosted by his impressive form in recent weeks, led the way with a century. Geraint Jones followed him to 100 and while Kent wobbled a little thereafter victory was clinched with 19 balls to go in the day.
While Kent stretched their lead at the top Middlesex slumped further into the mire at the bottom with a bitterly disappointing defeat to Northamptonshire at Lord's. Set 222 runs for victory in a minimum of 71 overs on a wearing pitch, they were undone by a feeble display of batting from their top-order, with only Nick Compton of the top five reaching double figures. This latest defeat means the north London side are still without a win after nine games.