Lancs fall agonisingly short

Lv County Championship
Stuart Law

Stuart Law reached 79 but was unable to prevent the defeat

Lancashire failed in a brave effort to reach an unlikely victory target against Surrey which would have brought them their first outright LV County Championship title in 73 years.

They fell just 25 runs short as they were bowled out for 464 with 4.1 overs remaining at the Brit Oval, meaning the championship title went to Sussex for the second consecutive year - and the third time in five years.

That they got so close to a reaching their target of 489 is a credit to the middle order duo VVS Laxman and Stuart Law who dominated the play during much of the second session.

Resuming their second innings on the fourth morning on 27 without loss Lancashire needed a further 462 from a minimum of 96 overs and by lunch, on 178 for two, they had reduced the target to 311 having lost two wickets in the session.

Paul Horton, who was 14 not out overnight, scored briskly, hitting three boundaries off Chris Jordan in the second over of the day.

But on 39 he was given out, caught behind off a rising ball from Jordan. The ball may have flicked a glove but he did appear to miss it.

Laxman joined Chilton and the scoring rate further increased with the India Test batsman showing excellent form. Their 50 partnership took 45 balls, with Laxman the more aggressive of the two.

Jade Dernbach

Jade Dernbach claimed two crucial wickets before lunch

Laxman reached 40 with a pull off Jade Dernbach, who was replaced by Ian Salisbury after his three overs had gone for 27 runs.

But Salisbury, too, conceded runs as Laxman hit him for two consecutive fours in the first over to bring up his 50 from 38 balls and 40 of those runs came from boundaries.

But Surrey had Chilton (30) stumped off Murtaza Hussain and the visitors were 114 for two half-an-hour before lunch.

Laxman and Law maintained the tempo with fast scoring and the former brought up his second championship hundred from 97 balls which included 16 boundaries.

But three balls later, his hit to midwicket was held by Mark Ramprakash, off Salisbury, and that ended a partnership of 115 in 24 overs.

Following Laxman’s departure, Law went on to form another useful stand with Croft (45) during which he reached his 50 from 84 balls.

Lancashire were progressing well until Surrey claimed the wickets of Law (79) and Croft in the penultimate over before tea, leaving them 307 for five, needing a further 182 from 37 remaining overs.

Law, having reached his ninth championship half-century of the season, was caught behind by Jonathan Batty leaping high to his left.

And, three balls later, Croft also fell to a leg-side catch by Batty. Both wickets were claimed by Dernbach.

But Lancashire kept themselves in the match with support from the lower order, particularly in the eighth-wicket stand of 52 in 10 overs between Sajid Mahmood (26) and Dominic Cork, who hit 47 and was the last wicket to fall.

Hussain was the pick of the bowlers with 4-126 while Dernbach had 3-85.