Suffering Keedy makes case

Lancashire 565-7 dec Middlesex 304 & 89-0

Lancashire have not had much luck where the weather is concerned. For the third successive championship match rain has proved decidedly unhelpful to them. This time it robbed them of a couple of precious hours after they had enforced the follow-on.

Lancashire have not had much luck where the weather is concerned. For the third successive championship match rain has proved decidedly unhelpful to them. This time it robbed them of a couple of precious hours after they had enforced the follow-on.

Gary Keedy had played a major role in helping them take a grip of affairs here, his left-arm spin from the Nursery End earning him the second-best return of his first-class career, an impressive 6 for 68. He gave the ball generous loop, deceiving batsmen through the air, as well as exploiting some awkward rough on or around a length outside the left-handers' off-stump.

It is remarkable to think that had Carl Hooper not fallen foul of the regulations governing overseas players then the West Indies all-rounder would have been playing and Keedy, who has suffered a broken knuckle (pre-season), a sore finger and back spasms with the season not a month old, would have been left kicking his heels.

Lancashire will find out sometime tomorrow after a meeting of the First Class Forum, at which they will decide whether the rule can be waived that prohibits the signing a temporary overseas replacement until their original choice (in this case Harbhajan Singh) recovers from injury. The Indian off-spinner has a finger injury and is not expected at Old Trafford until mid-June at the earliest.

Middlesex's hopes had been high while Ed Joyce and Paul Weekes took their fifth-wicket partnership to 78 before Joyce, who had reached an admirable half-century, nudged injudiciously at Glenn Chapple.

Weekes and Ben Hutton made manful efforts, but Middlesex missed the follow-on by 112 runs.

Before the rain came Lancashire suffered another loss, Flintoff, after four second-innings overs from him, to an upset stomach that had also struck him the day before.

Andrew Strauss, with a half-century, and Sven Koenig negotiated the 16 overs to the close knocking off 89 of the 261 runs needed to make Lancashire bat again.

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