Lancashire are on course to win their tenth LV= County Championship match of the season against Somerset at Taunton, but it is Hampshire who hold the key to their title hopes.
The Red Rose county start their 57th day of Championship cricket trailing Somerset by five runs, but the hosts only have five second innings wickets in hand, with the score at 105-5.
If Lancashire win, they will then have to hope that Warwickshire fail to beat Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in order to claim their first outright title since 1934. Hampshire were made to follow-on, and are 43-3 from 18 overs. They will start tomorrow 126 runs behind.
Lancashire captain Glen Chapple said: “They're (Hampshire) a good batting side, and it's a good pitch. We've just got to get on with our stuff, and hope that's enough.
“We've not slipped from our focus because you can't affect games 100 miles away. We're still keen for Hampshire to do well.”
Lancashire were magnificent today.
First of all they gained a first innings lead of 100, posting 480 after starting the day at 247-3.
Steven Croft became the fourth Lancashire batsman to score a fifty during the morning session, reaching 54 off 98 balls, and his knock preceded a tense pursuit of the 400 for the maximum of five batting bonus points.
In the end, the pursuit of that fifth point was rendered academic when Warwickshire took six Hampshire first innings wickets. But it was yet another indication of the character within the Lancashire dressing room.
Kyle Hogg hit 46 off 61 balls and Chapple 23 off 26 as that milestone was reached for the first time this season with three balls to spare despite both men being dropped in the deep by James Hildreth and Steve Kirby.
Kerrigan then hit 40 off 41 balls, including five fours and a six, to post a career best as all eleven batsmen reached double figures for the first time since 1957 and for only the second time in the county’s history.
He shared a stand of 57 inside 12 overs for the last wicket with fellow spinner Gary Keedy.
Chapple said: “It was a terrific day with the bat. To get 400 and that last batting point thanks to a terrific last partnership between Simon and Keeds was superb. Keggsy and Keeds got me and Hoggy out of a bit of trouble. Keggy's been offered some kind of incentives by the lads, free meals and that kind of thing, and he was up to it.”
Somerset were then reduced to 25-3 inside 13 overs as Hogg struck twice and Chapple, who bowled with a suspected torn left hamstring, once.
Jos Buttler and Hildreth then shared a frustrating fourth-wicket partnership of 67 to add to the 170 they shared earlier in the game, but Keedy had Hildreth stumped by Gareth Cross and Kerrigan had Buttler caught at slip by Paul Horton as close approached.
“On that pitch, to take three with the new ball, was a great effort. To get them five down, effectively 5-5, we're on top,” said Chapple. “We're confident and very positive about our own game.”
Chapple, who bowled eight overs at a cost of just 19 runs with the new ball, and Hogg bowled superbly on a flat pitch in the early stages of the evening session.
Chapple trapped Arul Suppiah lbw, Hogg had Alex Barrow caught at first slip by Horton before getting Chris Jones caught behind by Cross.
Buttler and Hildreth then batted patiently, but their late departures really turned the game in Lancashire’s favour.
If Lancashire win tomorrow, like they did here in 2008, they will have claimed their tenth win of the campaign.
And Chapple added: “If someone offers you ten wins at the start of the season, you'd bite their hand off. We would next season as well. Whatever happens, if we do win tomorrow, we'll have had a great year.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire County Cricket Club