Lancashire top after Kerrigan's five-wicket blitz

Warwickshire 172 & 97 Lancashire 227 & 189 (Lancashire win by 147 runs)
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The Independent Online

If Lancashire win the County Championship they will look back on this match with a wry smile at the collision of favourable circumstances that helped them pull off the win that puts them top of the First Division table.

Against a Warwickshire side loaded with good quality batting as Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott returned, the last thing they had expected was a pitch that would take spin on day two and turn square on day three. Yet not only was that the kind of surface set before them, they also found themselves equipped by accident to exploit it to the full as their two left-arm spinners, Simon Kerrigan and Gary Keedy, managed between them to take the last eight Warwickshire wickets for nine runs in 11.2 overs.

Kerrigan, 22 next week and in only his second full season, would not have played at all but for a rash of injuries to Lancashire seamers. He finished with the startling figures of five for seven from seven overs; Keedy, his senior partner, ended with three for two as Warwickshire surrendered for 97, their lowest total since 1999. "The odds were always against us facing two top-class spinners with a wicket that suited them perfectly," a bemused Ashley Giles, the Warwickshire coach, said. "Kerrigan is a good young spinner with the potential to be very good and we could see from his first over that it was going to be extremely tricky. But the pitch suited their attack too much. There was too much Russian roulette."

The vagaries in the surface, giving rise to unpredictable bounce as well as sideways movement, came about after a switch in pitches from one rejected as too dry to one that started soft and quickly became pitted. "We thought it looked a bit underprepared but we did not expect it to work out that well for us," Lancashire coach Peter Moores said, admitting that Kerrigan would not have played had he had a full squad to choose from. "He would probably have been the one to miss out, although he has been in every squad so far because he took three five-fors last season and he is bowling well."

Lancashire had lost their last six wickets for 42 runs, the damage done mainly by Boyd Rankin and an again impressive Chris Woakes before 20-year-old Maurice Holmes, an off-spinner making his Championship debut, picked up his first wicket in the competition. But with Jimmy Anderson and Keedy having added a handy 32 for the last wicket, their lead of 244 always looked likely to test Warwickshire, whose task became instantly more difficult when Glen Chapple had Will Porterfield caught behind to claim his 800th first-class wicket.

Bell looked bemused at how he managed to balloon a catch to midwicket as he tried to whip Chapple off his legs but after Kerrigan beat Mohammad Yousuf's expansive swing the wheels came off rapidly. Trott, who had profited from Anderson's bad luck with some streaky boundaries, fell leg before sweeping and the last seven wickets fell in the space of 53 balls.

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