White assault leaves Lancashire in tatters

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The Independent Online

Lancashire will go into their NatWest semi-final at Bristol on Sunday with their crown, as one-day kings, sadly askew. Before the floodlights could take effect here they were bowled out in 23.4 overs for a record low score, below the 71 made against Essex at Chelmsford in 1987. The match finished at 7.20pm, 25 minutes before Leeds United kicked off against 1860 Munich across the city. "I didn't know it was a double-header," said a York man, smugly.

Lancashire will go into their NatWest semi-final at Bristol on Sunday with their crown, as one-day kings, sadly askew. Before the floodlights could take effect here they were bowled out in 23.4 overs for a record low score, below the 71 made against Essex at Chelmsford in 1987. The match finished at 7.20pm, 25 minutes before Leeds United kicked off against 1860 Munich across the city. "I didn't know it was a double-header," said a York man, smugly.

Craig White, fresh from his advance into the front rank of England's bowlers, was the principal devastator. He took two wickets in his first over and by the end of his second his figures read 2-0-3-3. With Matthew Hoggard, fast and straight, dismissing John Crawley and Sourav Ganguly, Lancashire were 32 for 5 by the 13th over while the crowd was still streaming in.

The pitch was not to blame. Crawley chose to bat first, the new ball did seam about and, with cloud cover, the ball swung but these were conditions any team visiting here would expect. The sad fact is that Lancashire, without the resting Mike Atherton, batted like a team bottom of the National League while Yorkshire bowled and fielded like a side challenging for the Championship. "We were outplayed," Crawley admitted. "We've got to put this behind us and pick ourselves up for Friday."

By a quirk of the League fixtures Lancashire meet Gloucestershire at Old Trafford tomorrow in what amounts to a 45-over rehearsal for the 55-over main event on Sunday. A win is imperative and not only for morale; unless Lancashire can win their next two home League games - they meet Kent on Tuesday at Old Trafford - they face the ignominy of being relegated to the Second Division the season after they won the title. The chance to chant "Going down, going down" at a team based in Manchester was too much for this crowd to resist.

Yorkshire fielded their England men for almost the first time since early May and Darren Gough, bowling uphill, suffered in comparison with Hoggard who, admittedly, has more to prove. Once Ganguly had been well taken at square leg and Neil Fairbrother run out by fine fielding from Gough, the only real resistance came from Andrew Flintoff, who was circumspect enough to wait for 13 balls before he scored. He should have been caught off White at first slip when 13 and might have given more thought to the wild slog that brought his downfall.

With Gary Yates at the other end and 22 overs remaining, there was still time for prolonged resistance. In this Lancashire order only Mike Smethurst might be described as a rabbit yet the famous spiky tail was as limp as lettuce. Some Old Trafford professors would have wept.

When Yorkshire batted Darren Lehmann, revelling in his role as captain while David Byas recovers from a cartilage operation, hit seven boundaries in his 54 made off 42 balls. Lancashire's only success was the returning Ian Austin's deception of Victor Craven, bringing a catch at cover.

Yorkshire announced that they had signed a new agreement with Leeds Rugby League Club that will bring Headingley a £10m facelift.

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