Law takes lacklustre Warwickshire to task

Lancashire 384-5 v Warwickshire
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The Independent Online

The Warwickshire Bears are looking as ragged as the staff that occupies the other half of their badge. Mostly mechanical bowling, sleepy ground fielding and the desultory air of a side that suspects the summer is over, all these combined to help Lancashire towards a powerful position on the first day of their Championship match here yesterday.

The Warwickshire Bears are looking as ragged as the staff that occupies the other half of their badge. Mostly mechanical bowling, sleepy ground fielding and the desultory air of a side that suspects the summer is over, all these combined to help Lancashire towards a powerful position on the first day of their Championship match here yesterday.

It is not all over. Surrey and Lancashire have yet to visit Hove, while both Surrey and Sussex have to come here. A series of draws could still open the way for a fourth club but one with a much sharper edge and spirit, on yesterday's evidence, than Warwickshire.

Warren Hegg won the toss but the pitch was bumpy and the recall of Gary Keedy suggests Lancashire are expecting some turn. Low cloud and occasional rain - 10 overs were lost - meant some help for the bowlers and not all Lancashire's long list of batsmen looked hungry.

Warwickshire's bowlers should have been encouraged when Alec Swann went outside his off-stump to play down a rising ball and was surprised by sudden lift that brought an edge and a gentle arc to gully. Mark Chilton followed a bumper round to glide it into the wicketkeeper's gauntlets.

Iain Sutcliffe and Stuart Law had no part in such jollies, happy to wait and pick whatever plums came by. Law did once uppercut Dougie Brown for six, a disrespectful whack for one who is by far the most willing horse in this particular stable. Waqar Younis produced some fast and hostile deliveries in short spells. He had one reward - Chilton caught by Tim Frost on 30.

Braveheart Brown did produce the ball of the day, one that pitched leg and middle and ripped out Sutcliffe's middle stump, through the gate. After tea, as Carl Hooper was settling in, Brown found another that took the edge of Law's bat and sped to the boundary between a motionless keeper and first slip. After that, another Law century was inevitable, his fifth for Lancashire. The Australian has now only one county left to score a hundred against - his old club, Essex. He will resume on 150 today.

Lancashire had reached 314 in the 77th over when Warwickshire's luck changed, Hooper misjudging a pull to fall at mid-off. Law timed his shots so precisely he evoked memories of another Law in another time, at another Old Trafford. It was good to hear the PA refer to the re-named Brian Statham End but not enough credit has been given to the man whose idea it was - the radio reporter John Gwynne.

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