Lancs edge towards title

Only 33 overs of play were possible during day three against Gloucestershire at Bristol today, in which Lancashire picked up a third batting bonus point in the nick of time and then a first bowling point to move a step closer to the Division Two title.

With rain also affecting proceedings at Northampton, where the only team who can catch Lancashire are playing Kent, it is highly likely that the Red Rose county will have silverware in their hands at some point tomorrow.

As things stand, Glen Chapple's side need a maximum of seven more points to become champions of the second tier. That is assuming Northamptonshire pick up every available point between now and the end of the season.

And with weather affecting their match against Kent, they have plenty of work to do to clinch a maximum points win.

Gloucestershire closed today on 90-3 from 25 overs in reply to 310-8 declared.

"It was (frustrating)," admitted Kyle Hogg, who picked up one of the three wickets to fall. "We'd have liked to have had a bat this morning and post a decent total - certainly more than we got - and then have a good go at them with the ball. But you can't help the rain.

"We had a lot to gain in those 25 overs. We wanted to five or six wickets."

There was disappointment for Tom Smith this morning when he was bowled by Will Gidman five balls into the day's play without adding to his overnight score of 88. It was Gidman's fifth wicket, and it left the score at 293-8 in the 107th.

Lancashire's pursuit of a third bonus point then came down to the last ball of the 110th over, the cut off time for accruing bonus points in the first innings. Oliver Newby was on strike against left-arm seamer Matt Taylor needing two runs. He pulled the ball to the mid-wicket fence for four.

"Newbs claimed he knew it was the last over, but I'm sure he didn't!" quipped Hogg (with Newby by his side encouraging his team-mate to praise his batting).

Newby, at the scene of his crucial 36 not out in a low-scoring CB40 win last season,  and Hogg advanced the score to 310-8 after 114 overs before bad light and then rain ruined any possibility of play between 11am and 4.30pm when play restarted with 25 overs left in the day.

Lancashire declared immediately, and Chapple made an almost immediate breakthrough with just his second ball in the second over, getting Australian opener and his opposite number Michael Klinger caught at second slip by Tom Smith to leave the score at 13-1.

Hogg then had Gareth Roderick superbly caught by a diving Luis Reece at gully before Newby trapped Chris Dent lbw as the hosts slipped to 48-3. Alex Gidman and Hamish Marshall steadied the ship, and they will resume tomorrow on 21 and 14 respectively.

Graham Hardcastle
Picture (c) Simon Pendrigh

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