Horton comes to the rescue
Paul Horton’s first LV= County Championship century in more than two years steered champions Lancashire to a face-saving draw at Edgbaston which took Warwickshire back to the top of the table.
Horton batted through a rain-shortened final day, and for seven-and-a-half hours in all, for his 137 not out to save Lancashire from their fourth defeat in six matches as Warwickshire’s bowlers toiled in vain on a flat pitch.
It was the 14th first-class century of Horton’s career but his first in the championship since April 2010. Last season Horton was dismissed four times in the nineties but he reached three figures today when he tucked Keith Barker off his legs for two from the 242nd ball he faced.
It was a solid rather than spectacular innings from Horton, who scored only nine runs in 75 minutes before lunch, but it was exactly what Lancashire needed to restore some confidence after a series of batting failures this season.
Warwickshire had a theory that Horton might be vulnerable against the short ball and Rikki Clarke tested it by going round the wicket and bowling a series of bouncers. Most of them passed harmlessly over Horton’s head but one of them brought a loud appeal for a leg-side catch by wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.
Horton rubbed his chest and umpire Martin Bodenham turned down Clarke’s appeal which was the closest Warwickshire got to unsettling the Lancashire opener before he reached three figures.
Overnight rain and morning drizzle, which delayed the start for 45 minutes, helped Lancashire and Horton received valuable support from Stephen Croft, who made 21.
Luke Procter and Gareth Cross contributed 34 and 75 respectively, the latter’s unbeaten, to restrict Warwickshire to two wickets on the final day.
It required a low one-handed catch by Clarke at second slip off Chris Wright to account for Croft who stood his ground in the belief that he had jabbed the ball into the ground. Umpire Michael Gough consulted with Bodenham at square leg before Croft was given out.
Croft was the only wicket to fall in the morning session and Warwickshire had to wait 27 overs for their next breakthrough when Procter, who helped Horton add 61 for the fifth wicket, was LBW for 34, shuffling in front to Darren Maddy’s medium pace.
Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton recalled Jeetan Patel after tea and the former New Zealand off-spinner almost bowled Horton with one that turned sharply and just missed his off stump.
Horton and Cross, who reached his first fifty of the season, shared an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 139 to take Lancashire to 343 for five when the sides shook hands on the draw.