Yorkshire 345 Lancashire 359-6: Loye defies pain to drive Lancashire's push for title

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The Independent Online

A tough bunch, this Lancashire side. Iain Sutcliffe has been playing for the last year with a broken elbow. He batted yesterday, none the less, albeit not for as long as he had hoped. Mal Loye, meanwhile, despite a niggling hip injury that really requires a month's rest, hit his fifth century of the season, and his second against Yorkshire.

Loye is vital to Lancashire's quest for silverware. Only 21 runs short of 1,000 in the Championship, in which they lead Sussex by six points, he is also their chief accumulator in the Cheltenham &Gloucester Trophy, where they meet Sussex in the final at Lord's later this month. Little wonder the county want him to continue defying the pain.

He had a cortisone injection last month. Given that he has since scored centuries in three consecutive Championship matches, it appears to have worked. Last week's unbeaten 148 against Sussex at Hove secured what may prove to have been a vital draw. Yesterday's innings of 100, which ended when an attempt to sweep Darren Lehmann ballooned to short fine leg, was the fulcrum of a characterful Lancashire recovery after Yorkshire had been bowled out with only one run added to their overnight 344 for 9.

Sutcliffe found out why his elbow had been hurting after he being hit on the right forearm in the field on Tuesday. An X-ray revealed that part of the limb to be intact, but not the elbow. It usually hurts only when he throws, but the loose drive that went straight to cover might have caused a twinge.

That happened as Lancashire were stuttering to 77 for 3 before Loye took charge, in a fifth-wicket stand with Luke Sutton worth 118, although it would have been fewer had first slip Michael Lumb not let an edge off Jason Gillespie slip through his fingers when Loye was on 77.

Sutton - just back from six weeks out with a dodgy knee and a broken thumb, - stayed on to construct his first Lancashire hundred, helping the home side to a lead of 14 at the close, dampening Yorkshire's hopes of a win, despite being forced by injuries to give the 17-year-old seamer James Lee a high-pressure debut.