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5.35pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
The Warwickshire supporters have appropriated their opponents' songs this sunny afternoon and their cricketers are currently giving Lancashire a thorough pasting. At few stages in the second half of this match have Glen Chapple's batsmen suggested that they are capable of chasing down 251 in 40 overs to win this game. At the moment they are 124 for 6 after 26.4 overs and, barring utterly improbable assaults, the Bears are home in some comfort.
Jim Troughton's bowlers have applied pressure and Lancashire have cracked under the weight of it. Chris Wright dismissed both Croft and Brown, and Ashwell Prince skied Ian Blackwell to straight cover, where Troughton judged the catch superbly. Horton and Cross were batting busily but this is looking for all the world like another victory in a memorable year for the Bears.
As for special days, Jonathan and Danielle in Hove have had one more than many Lancashire fans in 2012 but several fewer than those who watch their cricket at Edgbaston. It'll take something very special to change that script. Cross is just out and you can stick a fork in this one too.
5.30pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
You can pretty much stick a fork in this one. Jimmy Adams and Simon Katich have just raised the 200, meaning they need 20 to win with almost 13 overs to go. Looks like the old heads and glory boys will be contesting their second domestic final of the year at Lord's ...
4.40pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
Just over a quarter of the way into their chase, Hampshire have already gone a long way to ruining Jonathan and Danielle’s special day. With Michael Carberry repeatedly hitting the Sussex seamers into the stands, there’s a serious danger that the wedding breakfast will be interrupted by bombs from above and, perhaps worse, Hampshire are already halfway to their target.
Both Carberry and Vince have reached their half-centuries and this is going down about as well as a badly butchered best man’s speech among most of the crowd. One six from Carberry actually cleared the video screen stationed on the east side of the ground, between long-on and deep midwicket, before bouncing into the suburban garden beyond. Sussex’s 219 is looking more like a molehill than a mountain by the minute.
And now Carberry has clubbed Will Beer straight down the throat of long-on, trying to repeat his six hit of a couple of balls previous. They can settle back down to their champagne and cake in the marquee, Hants 129 for 1 from 13.
4.30pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
The hills beyond Old Trafford are bathed in sunshine but there have been a few clouds over Old Trafford recently, which is a trite but pretty appropriate metaphor for Lancashire's chances in this match at the moment. Chasing 251 to win, the home side have lost both openers in getting to 41 in ten overs. Even in a game which has been pretty closely contested so far, there is just a sense that Warwickshire's record of success and their expectation of victory this summer will see them through. That may change, of course, but the loss of both Moore and Smith inside the first eight overs has placed a massive responsibility on Prince and Croft. Warwickshire have looked confident indeed, and both wickets were taken by Carter, who has just skulled Prince.
3.30pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
Sussex have somewhat stuttered to 219 from their 40-over allocation, having been 159 for 1 and then 195 for 3, only to lose five wickets for four runs over the course of two overs. Wright, with 122, made more than half the total but Hampshire’s seamers recovered from a chastening start to drag the visitors back into the game.
Meanwhile, a wedding has taken place in a marquee next to the boundary rope at the Sea End, with the bride now posing for photographs with Sid the Shark. Forget about maiden overs, I’m hoping that one of the batsmen offers to cut the cake ...
3.15pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
I agree entirely re October and there are clubs - in Yorkshire? - where cricket is played during that month.My vague recollection is that the etymology of Indian summer is American and that it links to the weather in which Indian raids might take place or the weather in which crops were harvested by Indians. I claim this with only a speck of confidence, however; I’m sure that there are other explanations.
Warwickshire are building a substantial score here, although they are doing so on a good wicket in the middle of the Old Trafford square. Stephen Moore has just taken his third catch of the innings and the Bears are 240 for five. Chopra, having reached his 50 off 66 balls is now 109 not out off 122. The classic anchor role or a slight failure to accelerate? Surely the former. Few batsmen make hundreds which lose matches for their side. Chopra’s presence has allowed his partners to attack. Lancashire will be chasing in excess of six an over after tea.
2.40pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
I would hazard that the English summer practically begins in September these days, so capricious is the middle hump of the year. October can be mighty fine too, if the weather comes over all subcontinental (where does the term Indian summer come from, by the way?) ... The cloud cover down here by the seaside slightly undermines my theory, though batting has been as fine as a Sussex fan could wish for and Hampshire have been burnt by Luke Wright, if not the rays.
He has just clattered Briggs through point for four to bring up his second consecutive hundred in the tournament, from 84 balls, raising his bat to gentle applause from a slightly subdued crowd. Don’t they know that there’s a Big Day Out up to The Smoke at stake here? Briggs, meanwhile, who has been one of the few Hampshire bowlers to control the run-rate, has just picked up his second wicket, three balls later, with Ed Joyce caught on the long-on boundary to leave Sussex 164 for 3 ahead of the final ten-over push.
Matt Prior was the other batsman to fall, bowled round his legs by Chris Wood, for a 52-ball 28 that was more reminiscent of his time in England pajamas than the new-model basher Sussex have been treated to occasional glimpses of this season.
2.15pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
Update to my previous post: Tim Ambrose injured his quad in the dressing room and will not keep wicket for the Bears. He may yet, however, bat, if needed. Warwickshire’s second team keeper Richard Johnson, who played CB40 matches for the first team earlier this season, is being driven up to Old Trafford and will keep for Jim Troughton’s side, roadworks and football traffic permitting. Lancashire have consented to this arrangement, which the sourer Red Rose fans may say is very good of them considering that Warwickshire are bouncing along on 141 for one after 25 overs, Varun Chopra 61 not out.
1.50pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
Can anyone remember a wet September? In my memory it has always been the balmiest of months, mellow and absolutely ideal for cricket. (July, on the other hand, has frequently been littered with meteorological extremes.) At Old Trafford this afternoon a decent crowd – confined to half a ground which is still in the throes of redevelopment – has watched Warwickshire progress smoothly to 87 for no wicket off 15 overs. Will Porterfield has batted particularly well to make 48 off 42 balls, lifting Chapple for six over fine leg and cover-driving sweetly. And all this is taking place on the first day of the month in which the season ends.
Meanwhile, we are hearing that Tim Ambrose has picked up an injury and will not be keeping wicket. Apparently Lancashire have agreed to Warwickshire using a substitute fielder. No news as yet on the nature of the injury or whether Ambrose will bat.
1.25pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
Luke Wright, after scoring 2 off his first 12 balls, has taken a liking to David Griffiths. In fact, he’s taken a liking to the Hampshire attack, not to mention poor Billy Shafayat, who dropped a dolly at deep square leg with Wright on 35. He’s hit three more fours since then and is motoring towards a half-century. Griffiths replaced Chris Wood as first change and, after starting with a maiden, was taken for four fours in an over by Wright, who carved three between point and extra-cover and then lofted a drive over mid-off. He has since cracked Griffith all the way back over his and into the stand for the first six of the match.
Bits-and-pieces cricketer he may be but England look to have made the right decision in stowing him amongst their luggage for the World Twenty20 later this month. Ah, and then on comes Danny Briggs, another England crash-bang tyro to look out for in Sri Lanka, to claim Hampshire’s first wicket, Chris Nash slicing to short third man to leave Sussex 76 for 1 after 12.
1.00pm: Paul Edwards at Lancashire v Warwickshire
There was a certain poignancy about the fact that the authors of the book celebrating Lancashire’s championship triumph in 2011 were signing copies of their work before today’s CB40 semi-final. Nearly a year on, last year’s runners-up Warwickshire look set to build on their agonising near miss by winning the title in the next week or so. If Jim Troughton’s side do win it, there may well be a book published this autumn about the Edgbaston team’s deserved triumph.
Lancashire, meanwhile, are fighting a battle against relegation. All of which, one may argue, has little bearing on today’s game at Old Trafford. Yes and no would be my helpful reply to that. Yes, because a win today and the prospect of a Lord’s final in a fortnight’s time would be an excellent boost to Red Rose morale ahead of this week’s vital four-day game at Lord’s. No, because it's hard to see past Warwickshire for the title, regardless of whether they win at Old Trafford.
Warwickshire, having won the toss, are six for nought after 3.3 overs.
12.55pm: Alan Gardner at Sussex v Hampshire
Good afternoon. Is it that time already? The last-four stage of the CB40 is upon us and we have two of last weekend’s T20 Finals Day combatants (though they didn’t meet in Cardiff) drawn together for a repeat of the 2009 FP Trophy final. Hampshire won that day, though Sussex went on to claim the Twenty20 Cup. Chance, then, for a reversal and the hosts have won the toss and will bat first, though the eiderdown sky above should provide some encouragement for the bowlers.
Hampshire are without Dimitri Mascarenhas, their taped-up talisman who led them to victory over Somerset and Yorkshire in the FLt20 last Saturday, while Neil McKenzie has gone back home to South Africa, as expected after Michael Carberry's return to full fitness. Bilal Shafayat also comes into the top order.
Sussex are unchanged from the side that hammered Kent by nine wickets last Monday, with crushing contributions from Luke Wright and Matt Prior, to secure top spot and a home semi-final. They underperformed in the T20 showpiece, despite being one of the favourites, and will not want to come off second best in this south-coast stramash between two of the domestic game,s short-form heavyweights.
12.45pm: A bonus blog
Hello everyone. We have a bonus county blog today with a place at Lord’s up for grabs in the CB40. Sussex are taking on Hampshire at Hove where we have Alan Gardner and Lancashire play Warwickshire at Old Trafford where Paul Edwards is on duty. It’s all to play for. Not sure a Lord’s final still carries the weight it did years ago, but it’s still a grand day out.
Sussex and Warwickshire are the teams batting first...
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Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.