Ecstasy to agony as Lancashire go down
Lancashire slumped from the high of last season’s title to today’s relegation from LV= County Championship Division One after losing by 109 runs to Middlesex at Lord’s.
The Red Rose needed to win the match due to Surrey’s victory over Nottinghamshire at The Kia Oval, but were left shattered and facing next summer in the second tier.
Captain Glen Chapple returned a 10-wicket match haul for the third time in his exemplary career, but Lancashire’s batsmen could not then bring off the miracle as Steven Crook took 5-48 in helping to dismiss his former county for 194.
Middlesex advanced from their overnight 129 for two to post 305 for nine declared in their second innings, setting Lancashire a target of 304 from 39 overs.
They needed to score at 7.8 runs per over, and for a while it was a task they looked up to.
Opener Ashwell Prince miscued Corey Collymore to mid-on for 20 and Tom Smith was stumped for 21, but the target was still achievable until Crook took three wickets in the 17th over, going on to make it four scalps in 11 balls.
At 107 for two, Lancashire had needed another 197. But they were 125 for six after Crook’s intervention, with Karl Brown and Steven Croft out for 33 and 30 respectively.
Crook’s fifth victim, Chapple for 19, effectively sealed the game.
From 146 for eight, the tail could survive only 59 balls more and Middlesex wrapped up victory with seven overs to spare.
There had been a misunderstanding late in Middlesex’s second innings when many thought the home side had declared after losing their eighth wicket.
Toby Roland-Jones, the not-out batsman, later said he had only gone off in search of “a drink”, although he probably wanted clarification on his side’s tactics after four men had gone in 35 balls, three of them to Chapple in an inspired new-ball burst.
Chapple then claimed another wicket with the first ball after the resumption when Ravi Patel was lbw, but Collymore, the last man, survived the hat-trick and was still there when the declaration eventually came.
Earlier, Chapple unseated Dawid Malan, caught behind on the pull for 95. After Ajmal Shahzad wrecked John Simpson’s stumps, the Lancashire skipper removed Crook, well taken at slip for 12, and Gareth Berg, lbw for five.
There was much vocal encouragement from their fielders for Lancashire’s attack in the morning yet precious little joy.
Five different bowlers had been involved by the day’s 12th over but almost an hour had gone before Chris Rogers top-edged a delivery from Simon Kerrigan to wicketkeeper Gareth Cross and went for 86 as Lancashire made their first breakthrough.
Neil Dexter reached nine after 11 overs at the crease and, frustrated, sliced to second slip when he aimed a drive at Smith but no further wicket would fall until Chapple’s burst, 50 minutes after lunch.