Yorkshire 345 & 450-9 dec Lancashire 441: Roses draw extends Lancashire's lead in Championship race

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The Independent Online

This is a fixture of enormous tradition but the exchange of favours is not a concept with which it has been regularly associated. Title-chasing Lancashire could have done with one yesterday but if they supposed their oldest and most curmudgeonly rivals might offer it, they were clearly fantasising. By the end of one of the grimmer days in Roses history, the sight of Lancashire's Mal Loye fielding in a trilby, borrowed from a spectator, came as welcome light relief.

The consolation for his team is that the draw plus maximum bonus points puts them 11 points ahead of Sussex, which is a handy lead with only four matches to go, although they should keep a lid on their excitement at the prospect of a first outright Championship for 72 years. Third-placed Hampshire missed an opportunity to overtake Sussex yesterday but still have to play both the sides in front of them.

Yorkshire led by 95 overnight with eight wickets in hand and there was scope for setting the home side a last-day target had they been able to build on their advantage quickly. By lunch the lead was 205 but if Craig White, the captain, had been feeling generous enough in the glow of his fourth Roses century to consider throwing down a challenge, what happened in the first over after lunch probably knocked it on the head.

If anyone could have put his foot on the accelerator at that point it was Darren Lehmann. But if dispatching the first two balls of the afternoon for consecutive fours was part of a plan, it was one that was immediately undone. The next delivery, dropped in short by Oliver Newby and eagerly hooked by the Australian, was plucked out of the air by Loye on the long-leg boundary. Three balls later, just in case White was still in two minds, Gerard Brophy crystallized his thoughts by scooping an easy catch to Mark Chilton at cover.

So Yorkshire batted on; and on. Yet you could not really have blamed them. Arguably, with relegation a real possibility, they needed to win more than Lancashire but, on a largely benign pitch, their current bowling attack would have struggled to dismiss Lancashire in a whole day let alone less than two sessions.

Had Brophy's carelessness been the catalyst for a Yorkshire collapse, Lancashire might have glimpsed an opportunity, but the alliance of Michael Lumb and Jason Gillespie put paid to that as Yorkshire ground on to 450 for 9 before the rivals agreed on a draw.

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