Sussex 218 &amp; 166 Lancashire 317 &amp; 69-1 <i>(Lancashire win by 9 wickets)</i>: Mahmood helps Lancashire to two-day victory

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The Independent Online

Just as England invariably believe they can win the football World Cup, Lancashire almost always think they can win cricket's County Championship, even though they have not done so in their own right since 1934.

Yet this year, perhaps, there is an extra slice of conviction, especially after what happened here yesterday, when Sussex suffered the humiliation of a nine-wicket defeat inside two days that slashes the gap between Lancashire and the previously unbeaten First Division leaders from 30 points to 14, with a game in hand for the Red Rose.

This was an emphatic performance from Lancashire, particularly their bowlers. Glen Chapple was at his consistently penetrative best in both Sussex innings and there was encouragement yesterday for Sajid Mahmood, who probably needed it after the disappointment of being dropped by England.

Chapple contributed significantly with the bat, too, although the notion that England might re-examine his claims for international recognition at 32 is fanciful. Much more likely is a swift recall for Mahmood, whose figures of 5-52 from 10.3 overs were his best in Championship cricket.

Given that Lancashire's reply to the Sussex first-innings total of 218 teetered dangerously at 135 for 5 yesterday morning, the degree to which their fortunes swung was remarkable. The visitors had been contemplating a first-innings lead, even, but wound up trailing by 99 runs.

This was brought about largely by the antics of Chapple and Dominic Cork, whose decision to throw caution to the wind against the spinning threat of Mushtaq Ahmed delighted a crowd of more than 2,000 . Chapple's 52-ball 47 contained three sixes and four fours, matching the boundary count in Cork's 59-ball 53. Mushtaq claimed another five wickets but at a cost of 112 runs.

Jason Lewry's 5-75, exploiting the good bounce in the wicket, was the more meritorious performance.

Thereafter, Lancashire were always favourites, particularly after Mahmood took three wickets in his first three overs to reduce Sussex to 49-4, and only Sussex captain Chris Adams (66) proved any sort of obstacle.

When he became Mahmood's final victim, Lancashire needed only 68 to win, which they achieved, after claiming the extra half hour, for the loss only of skipper Mark Chilton.