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Match Report

LV County Championship Division 1

Emirates Old Trafford
07/05/13 @ 11.00
4 Days

Lancashire V Essex

Lancs win last over thriller

Lancs win last over thriller

You wait nearly a year for one four-day win to come along and then two thrillers arrive within the space of eight days.

If the volume of Lancashire's team song was particularly loud on Friday evening, nobody could blame Glen Chapple and his players, for their three-wicket win over Essex was, like the triumph at Colwyn Bay a week earlier, a throwback to the golden summer of 2011 when pulsating successes came as standard.
No one can know what the significance will be of the 18 points Lancashire gained from this match (one point was deducted for a slow over-rate). Suffice it to say for the moment that it puts Chapple's men in one of the Second Division's promotion places. Given that they could well have a record of played four, won none, such an outcome is more than acceptable.
Moreover, it is doubtful that any one of the small band of spectators who watched this final day at Emirates Old Trafford will easily forget the cricket they witnessed.
Set to score 253 in 51 overs - later reduced to 47 by bad light - the Red Rose batsmen achieved their goal with just one ball to spare, although this was a poor reward for James Foster's attacking declaration after nearly half the day had been lost to rain.
But Glen Chapple's players nearly messed up their run-chase when they lost three wickets - those of Steven Croft (26) Gareth Cross (0) and Simon Katich (28) - to Reece Topley's penultimate over of the match when only five runs were required. And there was even poignant drama when the winning runs were scored as the former Lancashire favourite Sajid Mahmood dropped the catch off Wayne White that would have taken the game to its final possible delivery.
"It was another brilliant game of cricket and I'm just glad we came out on the right side of it," said Karl Brown, whose 81 had played a key role in the victory. "It was just a case of trying to have a few wickets in hand at the end and we managed to do that." 
Topley finished with five for 80 from his 14 overs and, like most of his colleagues, really did not deserve to be on the losing side. 
That late drama was in sharp contrast to a superb tranquility of a third-wicket partnership of 169 between Brown and Ashwell Prince which had taken the home side to 182 for two, within 71 runs of victory with nine overs to be bowled.
Even after both batsmen were dismissed, Katich and Croft added 41 in five overs to take Lancashire to the verge of a win which threatened to be comfortable but in the end was anything but.
Lancashire's pursuit had got off to a poor start when they lost both openers inside the first six overs. Luke Procter played across the line to a full length delivery from David Masters and was lbw for only four while Paul Horton was unable to cope with Topley's extra bounce and steered the ball tamely to Rob Quiney in the gully.
Much of the rest of the day belonged to Brown and Prince who saw off the threat of the new ball before gradually unveiling a seres of attacking shots.
Although the Essex bowlers never lost their length and line, they were gradually overpowered by the Red Rose pair, who whittled away at the target and reached a series of landmarks. The hundred partnership was achieved off just 123 balls and while Brown reached his fifty off 72 balls, Prince took seven deliveries longer.
If Brown's was the more spectacular innings - he hit a straight six off Masters and another superb maximum when he picked up Topley and put him over the midwicket boundary - Prince's canny acquisition of runs was equally impressive.
Just when it seemed possible that the pair were going to reach personal centuries and take Lancashire to victory by themselves, both were dismissed inside four overs.
Prince was yorked for 80 by Topley when attempting to work the ball through third man while a tired Brown lost his leg stump to Graham Napier when he had made 81.
"Ashwell has a lot of experience and he was speaking to me all the way through it," said Brown. "He was talking to me it and it made my job a lot easier. You just try to keep it simple and keep it ticking over by scoring four or five runs an over. I'm pleased to have got a score in a really good run chase, although you need a little bit of luck in a chase like that and we got it.
"After that sort of a win, the dressing room really is buzzing and the belief in the team is massive and I just hope that we can carry that on though the rest of the season.
"However, to be honest, Saj is a great mate of a lot of the lads and it's not nice to see him drop a catch. We won the game so we were really happy, but it's not pleasant to see that happen to someone you're quite close to." 

Paul Edwards
Photo: Karl Brown during his innings of 81 today/Wayne White and Kyle Hogg celebrate after hitting the winning runs (c) Clint Hughes


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