Quickfire Chapple keeps Lancashire in the chase

Warwickshire 449 and 187 Lancashire 781 Lancashire win by an innings and 145 runs
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For much of the afternoon it looked as through thunderstorms would rob Lancashire of a deserved and much needed victory but courtesy of a thrilling over by Glen Chapple, in which he took three of the four remaining wickets, mostly by bowling straight and full, the red rose county can still hope for their first outright Championship title since 1934.

A lot still has to go their way, particularly at Hove where Sussex are still playing but they travel to Old Trafford next week, where a Lancashire win would really spice up the last round of matches.

It all looked academic yesterday as big puddles dotted the outfield but the sky cleared, the Lancashire players, coach driver and scorer helped remove the cover sheets and a motorised water-hog sped round the field soaking up the surface fluid.

Nicknamed "Blotter", although it guzzled so swiftly and effectively that George Best would be more appropriate, it ensured that only 35 overs were lost and gave Lancashire 24 in which to take the final four wickets.

It was the seventh of these that really did for Warwickshire as Keith Piper pushed a catch to short-leg, Melvyn Betts missed a curiously ambitious clip to midwicket and next ball, Corey Collymore was bowled off-stump.

But the fairytale ending of completing the win with a hat-trick was avoided as the No 11, Alan Richardson, calmly allowed the ball to pass through to the wicket-keeper. Indeed he continued in similarly unfussed style and with Dougie Brown secure at the other end Lancashire began to fret.

Gary Keedy, the left-arm spinner who before the delay had bowled beautifully to dismiss Ian Bell and Jonathon Trott came in, out and then back in to the attack after a quick experiment with the lumbering John Wood but it was the belated introduction of Steven Crook that got the final wicket.

If they had failed it would have been cruel reward for a fine team performance, particularly in the morning session when they took the first six wickets in only 38 overs.

Some of the strokes were less than memorable, Mark Wagh driving in the air to short extra-cover and Trevor Penney studiously leaving a straight ball that flattened his off-stump for example, but there is no denying Lancashire's collective will or effort.

"A bunch of mates desperate to do well for each other," is how Mal Loye, one of their centurions described the dressing room and that feeling of camaraderie will be needed next week when Mushtaq Ahmed and company turn up for what could prove the title decider.