Essex left standing

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The Independent Online
reports from Old Trafford

Lancashire 496 and 106-0 Essex 248 and 350 Lancashire win by 10 wickets

Tigerish Lancashire have upstaged transitional Essex over an unexpectedly long weekend. This was another of the season's potentially premature finishes which somehow extended into the second session of the fourth day.

Bathed in sunshine, Jason Gallian and Nick Speak completed their second century opening partnership of the match as Essex basically stood and stared at the efficiency of it all.

The game's all-round performance belonged to Michael Watkinson, with a career-best 161 and figures of 9 for 130, including 6 for 91 in the second innings.

Lancashire look intermittent world-beaters, as a third 24-point maximum this summer testified. Speak launched the onslaught with a 52-ball half- century. His driving against the spinners, Peter Such and John Childs, was a model of balance and timing.

Lancashire were lacking Michael Atherton, Peter Martin, Glen Chapple, Neil Fairbrother and Ian Austin. Essex were at full strength, but the tail added only 30 to the Saturday night fever of Such and Mark Ilott, who ama-ssed 71 for the eighth wicket.

The sight of Wasim Akram and his express deliveries provided a side-show, except for the white-knuckled bat-clutchers of Such, with a burgeoning career average of 6.54, Steve Andrew with 7.34, and Childs on 9.43. Ilott ended on 36 not out, but Essex were down and out soon after lunch.