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Horton halts Warwicks surge
Horton halts Warwicks surge
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Paul Horton's first century in the County Championship for a little over two years underpinned Lancashire's brilliant rearguard action to secure an important draw against Warwickshire at Edgbaston today.

The 29 year-old, who has scored hundreds in his time with the Tuskers in Zimbabwe since his 123 against Essex at Chelmsford in April 2010, only scored nine runs during a truncated morning session due to rain before bringing up his milestone during the afternoon.

After four four-day scores in the nineties last year, including 99 against Notts at Trent Bridge, Horton posted 137 not out off 362 balls as Lancashire reached 343-5 from 127 overs.

In batting for seven and a half hours, he was helped along by Steven Croft, Luke Procter and Gareth Cross, who spent valuable time at the crease after the Red Rose started the day at 11.45am on 122-3, still 238 runs behind.

He had already shared 89 for the second wicket with Karl Brown during the latter stages of Friday's third day.

Horton and Cross shared an unbroken 139 for the sixth wicket to ensure the players' shook hands on a draw, out of which Lancashire take four points, at approximately 4.45pm.

Cross finished with a season-high 75 not out off 168 balls, including eleven fours and a six. Horton hit 19 boundaries.

"It was nice to get a hundred, but it's more important that we drew the game and to be not out at the end," said Horton. "Cricket's a game of momentum. Warwickshire have won a couple of games and had good momentum, and we've managed to stop that.
 
"We've turned the tide on our performances. We weren't as good we'd like in the first two days, but we've managed to come good over the last two days and get a draw.

"My target was just to bat the whole day and save the game. Whether I finished 60 not out or 100 not out, it doesn't really make a difference. It's nice to obviously get a hundred. It's not an individual game, it's a team game.

"It's easy for me to say they bowled well, but I thought they tried a lot of things. It spun a little bit for Jeetan Patel. They're a team with their tails up. They'll have come here thinking they could get seven wickets for the day and clean us up, but we managed to fight.

"Crossy played really well, Procter played really well early on and Crofty hung around. We managed to build partnerships, which we haven't done in the first few games."

Dogged and determined all day, the Sydney-born Liverpudlian upped his scoring rate after lunch, bringing up his elusive century off 242 balls with 13 fours included after surviving a vociferous appeal for caught behind down the leg-side off Rikki Clarke's bowling whilst on 78.

Horton guided boundaries through gully, clipped through mid-wicket, and drove either side of mid-on. It was also his highest score in Championship cricket since September of 2009 when he scored 173 against Somerset at Taunton.

After Croft had fallen for 21 at the end of the day's seventh over, superbly caught one-handed low down to his right at second slip by Clarke off Chris Wright, Procter aided Horton with a 61-run stand for the fifth wicket in 26 and a half overs.

Procter hit five fours in 34 off 75 balls, with balls almost being the most meaningful statistic on days like these, before he was trapped lbw by Darren Maddy's medium pace to leave the score at 204-5 in the 76th.

Adding to how well Lancashire played today, they were able to count upon the odd slice of luck here and there, arguably the biggest being when Cross inside-edged a ball from Keith Barker in his pads and then saw it trickle past his stumps.

Warwickshire had just taken the second new ball at 80 overs, and there were a minimum of 41.4 overs remaining in the day with Lancashire at 233-5.

Horton was tested most when off-spinner Jeetan Patel switched ends to the City End with 25 overs in the day remaining.

Cross accelerated as he approached his first fifty of the summer, picking off loose deliveries from Patel and part-time spinner Ian Westwood in fading light. He reached 50 off 127 balls with eight fours.

The wicketkeeper later swept Westwood for four and six before home skipper Jim Troughton also brought on another part-time spinner in Varun Chopra as the Bears' hopes  ebbed away.

Lancashire face Essex in the Clydesdale Bank40 at Old Trafford tomorrow (1.45pm start) before returning to Liverpool to play Middlesex, starting on Wednesday.

Reports: Day 1   I   Day 2   I   Day 3

Graham Hardcastle
Photo (c) Neal Simpson/EMPICS Spor
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd

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