Lancashire lean on steady Crawley

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
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The Independent Online
MICHAEL AUSTIN

reports from Old Trafford

Warwickshire 262 and 297

Lancashire 410 and 150-4

Lancashire win by six wickets

No team have greater expectations this summer than Lancashire, especially after achieving their eighth consecutive win in all competitions yesterday and beating the triple champions of last summer.

The alternative view is that Warwickshire, also defeated the previous day, were without five leading players. If Allan Donald and Tim Munton had been present, Lancashire would have had more to chase. John Crawley still needed to steady the innings with a half-century from 75 balls.

Setting apart the ifs and buts, Lancashire owed their last day authority to the devastating seam bowling not of Wasim Akram, but Peter Martin and Glen Chapple. After the peace and contentment of Dominic Ostler and the nightwatchman, Richard Davis, adding 88 for the fourth wicket, seven tumbled for 31 runs in 14 overs.

Whereas Lancashire had produced a limping century maker, Neil Fairbrother, and Michael Watkinson, who was close to one in the first innings, Warwickshire produced four half-centuries with Andy Moles, twice, Wasim Khan and Ostler not advancing significantly. Ostler was the second-innings instance as he braved knee trouble with 50 from 98 deliveries and was out four balls later, bowled by Chapple, who took three wickets in 17 balls. Martin relished a spell of 4 for 15 in 45 balls as Warwickshire's middle order looked distinctly shaky without Dermot Reeve against the second new ball. The catalogue of events included Trevor Penney being caught at short leg and Paul Smith edging a wideish ball for Warren Hegg to take a shoulder high catch.

All this after Warwickshire inwardly welcomed a rain interruption at 259 for 3, a lead of 111, with lunch less than an hour away. The shower lasted 10 minutes and Warwickshire reached the scheduled break at 278 for 7. They fared no better after lunch, either, adding only another 20 runs as Martin finished with 4 for 51 and Chapple 3 for 46.

A total of 250 to chase would have put intriguing pressure on Lancashire on a frail fourth day pitch with variable bounce and pace. Instead, they needed only 150 from a minimum of 58 overs and still suffered a few tremors.

At 87 for 3, Lancashire had lost Jason Gallian and Michael Atherton, both caught at the wicket, and Nick Speak, who drove to mid-on. Chapple, the scheduled No 10, appeared unexpectedly at No 5 and was caught low by Ostler at first slip.

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