Lancashire's title hopes take a battering

Warwickshire 342-6 v Lancashire

Lancashire's hopes of making a late challenge for the County Championship First Division crown took a pounding from the Warwickshire batsman Dougie Brown here yesterday.

As a Scottish international who coached Namibia in last year's World Cup and someone who is shortly to embark on a winter playing in South Africa, Brown does not lack worldliness. Nor is he any slouch at bailing his county out of a crisis. He obliged Warwickshire again yesterday by going in at 101 for 5 in the 31st over and reaching 112 as his side made 342 for 6.

Only three and a half overs before stumps did he depart - and then it was to a calf strain rather than submission to a tiring attack. He is in the batting form of his life and has power to add this morning, if fit, with the shine from the second new ball fast disappearing.

With fellow centurion Jonathan Trott, Brown made Lancashire's outside chance of an outright first County Championship triumph since 1934 more remote still and continued to usher the relegation storm-clouds away from Edgbaston.

It says much about Warwickshire's batting inconsistency this season that their affable No 7 has had the opportunity to achieve the admirable feat of seven fifties in eight visits to the crease in four-day cricket.

He has now converted two of those half-centuries into tons, making it three for the summer, and, with 858 runs to his name, is closing in on the 1,000 mark for the first time in a Championship campaign.

Trott, born in Cape Town but the holder of a British passport, had been left out of Warwickshire's last six games despite a maiden hundred in May but is back in the absence of the injured Jim Troughton.

He laid the first foundations for recovery after Michael Powell's day started well with the winning of the toss and quickly deteriorated with his dismissal to the morning's fourth ball.

Nick Knight and Mark Wagh followed within four overs of each other and, when Ian Bell was taken at slip, the score was a miserable 64 for 4.

Glen Chapple, called up by England recently but not given a game, made all the early inroads and was right on the spot. He took 3 for 30 from 10 overs in the first of his four spells before his and Lancashire's fortunes nosedived.

Trevor Penney's departure shortly before lunch was their last breakthrough for five hours, during which Trott and Brown added 216 in 63 overs and struck the ball cleanly to all parts.

They sailed past the county's record sixth-wicket stand against Lancashire, set in 1972 when Rohan Kanhai and Norman McVicker put on 143 at Old Trafford, and were only four short of Warwickshire's all-time leading partnership for that wicket - established by Jack Buckingham and Tom Dollery in 1938 - when Kyle Hogg got one to skid through and hit Trott's off stump.

The 22-year-old had made 126 from 270 balls, with 16 fours and a driven straight six off Gary Keedy.

All-rounder Brown, now beyond 800 runs in his best campaign with the bat, cruised to his century off 167 deliveries with 13 fours. Of most concern to Warwickshire will be whether he can figure in a bowling attack already missing Ashley Giles and the injured Waqar Younis.