Loye claims title for Lancashire

Lancashire secured the National League Second Division title with a nine-wicket win over their nearest rivals Northamptonshire yesterday.

Set a target of 241, the visitors claimed victory thanks to a century from the former Northamptonshire batsman, Mal Loye, on his return to Wantage Road. He made an unbeaten 104 off 99 balls with 11 fours, taking Lancashire to victory with eight overs to spare. Iain Sutcliffe (54) and Stuart Law (79 not out) also made valuable contributions.

Phil Jaques' 107 off 109 balls had looked to have given Northamptonshire a chance to claim the title themselves but the visitors rarely looked in trouble chasing the target.

Hampshire joined those two in being promoted to the First Division despite a nine-run defeat by Derbyshire because fourth-placed Middlesex lost by nine wickets at Durham. After the Crusaders made just 112, with Shoaib Akhtar taking four wickets, Durham took less than 12 overs to reach their target. Nicky Peng's unbeaten 66 was the cornerstone of the home side's reply.

That meant Hampshire were promoted despite their pursuit of Derbyshire's 172 for 7 faltering after the opener Simon Katich had set them on their way with 56.

Elsewhere in the Second Division, Somerset beat Sussex by 191 runs after making a titanic 377. Ian Blackwell hit 13 fours and five sixes as he made 111 off 56 balls for Somerset.

In the First Division, Kent's win over Warwickshire meant Leicestershire were relegated despite beating Surrey by 168 runs. The Foxes bowled out the champions for 115 in 22 overs, their captain Phil DeFreitas taking five wickets, after his side had made 283.

However, it was not enough to save Leicestershire as Kent set Warwickshire a target of 268 at Canterbury after a solid innings underpinned by Ed Smith's 74 off 109 balls. The home side then wiped out the visitors inside 38 overs for 163.

Worcestershire's place at the bottom of the First Division was confirmed by a four-wicket defeat to Essex. Kabir Ali's 93 was the only bright spot in the home innings as they made 213 but that was comfortably overhauled by Essex with three overs to spare. Also relegated, Yorkshire lost by three wickets against Gloucestershire.