Law century propels Lancashire into position of strength

Lancashire 469 v Derbyshire 215 & 8-1

Lancashire went some way towards making amends for last summer's disappointment by ending their shortage of Old Trafford runs and claiming an advantage over Derbyshire in this Second Division contest.

Lancashire went some way towards making amends for last summer's disappointment by ending their shortage of Old Trafford runs and claiming an advantage over Derbyshire in this Second Division contest.

Aiming to bounce back into the First Division at the first attempt, Lancashire were aware of their shortcomings in setting competitive totals at home. Only twice last year did their batting line-up pass 400 in the first innings at Old Trafford.

But that sequence of sub-par totals was ended yesterday with a total of 469 to help establish a 254-run first-innings lead. Mal Loye and Stuart Law both claimed centuries.

The lead was narrowed to 173 runs by the close of the third day, with Derbyshire progressing to 81 for 1. But Lancashire will remain confident of claiming a second successive victory. Having dismissed Derbyshire for 215 on the opening day, Lancashire set about trying to cash in on that impressive effort.

Resuming on 175 for 1 overnight, it took Loye eight overs to claim the nine runs he needed to claim Lancashire's first hundred of the summer. Allowing Australian batsman Brad Hodge to dominate during the early stages, Loye was content to edge his way to the landmark.

Hodge, making his Lancashire debut, looked every inch a future Australian Test player. He had hit 10 boundaries to reach 65 when he gave a leading edge to slip attempting to sweep Ant Botha, Derbyshire's South African-born left-arm spinner. It was the first of two important scalps for Botha in successive overs en route to his Derbyshire-best haul of 6 for 104 .

In his next over he also removed the England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, whowas bowled for five, leaving a delivery from Botha he had expected to miss his stumps.

Facing a tricky 31 overs before the close, Derbyshire successfully saw off the new-ball threat from James Anderson and Dominic Cork. However, the Australian Michael di Venuto came down the wicket to the left-arm spinner Gary Keedy and was stumped for 40 only five overs before the close.

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