Watkinson pins Championship hope on climate change

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The Independent Online

The Lancashire coach, Mike Watkinson, will travel in hope and pack the sunblock when his side go to Hampshire looking for their first outright County Championship title for 72 years.

They go into the final match of the season on Wednesday eight points behind Sussex, knowing that anything other than victory will almost certainly end their challenge. However, with the weather forecast not good, Lancashire may be scuppered by their perennial foe: rain.

"I've started to just turn up and wait and see what we get," Watkinson said. "The forecasts are not always exactly accurate and you've got to plan as though you're going to have four decent days of cricket."

Watkinson's men have lost more than 1,000 overs to the weather in drawn matches this season, and rain struck again in their penultimate game with Durham, washing out the second day's play. With a draw and maximum bonus points the best his side could hope for, the game finished with figures for Durham of 372 and 69for 1, in reply to Lancashire's 482 for 8.

A thrilling all-round display from Dominic Cork helped them take all but one of the eight bonus points on offer. The seamer's three wickets in seven balls on Saturday sealed the second bowling point, and he struck 154 to claim, almost single-handedly, the maximum five batting points, giving Lancashire 11.

There was better news yesterday when Lancashire produced a fabulous display against Glamorgan to celebrate the return of James Anderson and the confirmation of their Pro40 League Division One status.

With a win needed, a knock of 78 from Nathan Astle, along with two important wickets for Anderson, made sure that the 109-run victory was never in doubt. In contrast, Glamorgan face a relegation play-off next Sunday.

* Essex were beaten by Durham at Chester-le-Street yesterday but secured the NatWest Pro40 Division One title after Sussex collapsed to a defeat against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Sussex needed a win to have any chance of overtaking Essex at the top, but they were dismissed for just 110 after winning the toss.

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