Lancashire clinched their third LV= County Championship win of the season after being made to work hard this morning by Warwickshire pair Jonathan Trott and Neil Carter.
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They shared a seventh wicket partnership of 102 inside 27 overs to take the runs required below 100 as Warwickshire attempted to chase down 441.
Left-handed Carter, who hit an unbeaten 69 in the first innings, was the main protagonist as he hit ten fours in 73 off 92 balls, but was bowled by a majestic slower ball from Sajid Mahmood half an hour before lunch.
Afterwards Peter Moores compared it to Steve Harmison’s slower ball to get Michael Clarke in the 2005 Ashes series at the same ground.
Jimmy Anderson and Glen Chapple had taken the new ball at the start of the fourth day, but found little help through the air or off the pitch. At one stage captain Chapple employed Tom Smith as long stop after Carter had top edged Anderson over Luke Sutton’s head for two successive boundaries.
But, once Mahmood had struck, Warwickshire subsided very quickly as Anderson had both Imran Tahir and Andrew Miller caught behind by Sutton in successive overs before the lunch break.
Warwickshire just about took the match into its penultimate session, and Trott had enough time to reach his 150, but a 65-run win for Lancashire was confirmed when the England man holed out to Steven Croft at mid-wicket off Mahmood.
“That was tough going, and it was a proper game of cricket,” said Moores. “We are really pleased, but all credit to Warwickshire and Trotty, he played very well. It went down to the wire in the end.
“All day you couldn’t take yourself off the edge of your seat because it was touch and go. Yesterday’s last session was a very important session for us in that Kerrigan and Smith managed to tie it up a little bit.
“I thought that was the opportunity for Warwickshire to push on and put us under pressure because the ball was old. We managed to hold them in that session.”
With Trott and Carter going well this morning, there was a glimmer of hope for the home faithful. Anderson said the Lancashire dressing room were always confident of winning, but they would have been breathing a lot easier when Mahmood bowled Carter with that aforementioned slower ball.
Mahmood, in jovial spirits at the end, was reluctant to reveal exactly what he had done with the ball: “I don’t want to give away all my secrets, do I?” he chuckled.
The 23 points gained ensures that Lancashire are still hot on the heels of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire after five matches. They face Essex in LV= Division One at Old Trafford on Monday.