Lancashire produced a strong batting response to Sussex's first innings total of 243 all out at Liverpool on the third day.
And, with Sussex closing day three on 151-3 in their second innings, Lancashire head into tomorrow’s day four with a good chance of opening their campaign with an impressive victory as the visitors still trail by 78.
Gareth Cross, who was one of five men to score fifty or more in the Lancashire innings, said: “We felt we played well, all the batsmen got runs and the bowlers helped - everyone chipped in today. It was a good team performance.
“The way we batted showed the pitch is decent. There’s not a lot in it of the seamers, Keeds is spinning it a bit now, so it will be interesting tomorrow if we get an early wicket and put some pressure on them.
“The wicket is so flat, it’s just a case of bowling straight for the seamers and hoping the batsmen make a mistake. Keeds is the one tomorrow who can put pressure on them.”
England’s back-up Test spinner Monty Panesar finished with figures of 4-105 from 47 overs, three of those wickets coming during today’s third day, while Amjad Khan chipped in with three wickets.
Steven Croft and Tom Smith, who resumed day three at the crease, shared 95 in 28 overs for the sixth wicket before the former was caught by Ed Joyce at first slip off Panesar for 64 off 109 balls. Croft had earlier posted fifty off 94.
Smith was quite happy to drop anchor, shown by his morning tally of 19 runs off 65 balls, and he proved to be a valuable ally for wicketkeeper Cross, the pair adding 88 for the seventh wicket.
In typically busy mood, Cross was quickly into his stride as he drove Panesar straight down the ground and cut Naveed Arif to the fence in consecutive overs.
The 26 year-old, who also swept well during his innings, brought up his half-century six overs into the afternoon session off 79 balls before his partner confirmed his off 127 just two overs later.
Cross was bowled by Panesar as he tried to find the fence for the tenth time in his 98-ball innings of 63.
And captain Glen Chapple followed him back to the hutch for a golden duck, caught at first slip by Joyce off a regulation outside edge.
Cross said: “I thought I would have batted yesterday, so I sat there for a full day wearing my pads watching other people smash it. It was good to get out there and score a few runs.”
Smith was ninth man to go for 60 off 150 balls – bowled by Amjad off the inside edge as he tried to run a ball down to third man – but Lancs had reached 467 by that time.
Sajid Mahmood had hit a couple of boundaries – one in the air through mid-on and the other sweetly timed through the covers off Panesar. But he fell to close the innings when he top edged a pull off Amjad to provide Joyce with his third catch of the day at square-leg.
Left-arm spinner Gary Keedy was then Lancashire’s main threat with the ball, picking up two wickets in an unbroken 18-over spell that only cost 28 runs.
Sussex started their second innings strongly thanks to an opening stand of 69 between Joyce and Chris Nash (43), but Keedy wheeled away for his rewards.
He had Joyce caught by Mahmood at mid-wicket to break through in the 14th over before getting Luke Wells caught in a similar position by Stephen Moore. Sandwiched in between was a scalp for Oliver Newby, who trapped Nash lbw in the final over of the afternoon session.
Despite a number of near misses, Murray Goodwin (32 not out) and Joe Gatting (27 not out) saw their side through to close thanks to an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 46.