Lancashire hint at better times
Lancashire 350 for 9 dec (Prince 80, Adams 5-108) and forfeit drew with Nottinghamshire forfeit and 293 for 7 (Taylor 67)
Lancashire's hopes of retaining the County Championship title they worked for so many years to secure may have disappeared already but they are at least beginning to reveal their competitive qualities again. Unbeaten in their last four first-class matches and with a first win achieved against Durham last week, they successfully resisted Nottinghamshire's attempt to secure a win that would have given Chris Read's side a 14-point lead at the top of the First Division.
Indeed, for an over or two they sensed even that they could have won in what proved to be an intriguingly balanced final day, made possible by the co-operative enterprise of the two captains. The moment passed, yet they will take encouragement from forcing one of this summer's title favourites into a battle for survival and it would be no surprise at all to see them finish somewhat closer to the top of the table than the bottom.
Nottinghamshire, who had made a bold attempt to chase 351 from 90 overs after Chris Read and Glen Chapple each agreed to forfeit an innings, finished on 293 for 7. They had been 177 for 4 at tea, which still left a lot to do, more when another wicket fell early in the final session. But the pursuit was called off only when two wickets fell from consecutive balls just inside the last hour.
Lancashire had a new ball to bowl with for the final 10 overs but in Read and Paul Franks Nottinghamshire had enough experience to block it out without many alarms on what was essentially a sound pitch and one that was effectively only two days old, after all the time lost.
Nottinghamshire are in front as the Championship goes into mid-season hibernation and Twenty20 takes charge, but only by a point from Warwickshire, who have a game in hand.
The target was a stiff one. The maths offered Nottinghamshire a chance, of course, but the longer the chase, the greater the scope for mishaps. A chase of this magnitude tends to require that at least one batsman makes a century, preferably an unbeaten one. None of the Nottinghamshire batsmen could come up with one, which was essentially why they failed.
Yet it had been a meritworthy effort by Lancashire, for whom Chapple and Kyle Hogg, in particular, bowled some outstanding spells. Chapple rotated his resources wisely, moreover, so that the dangerous but less reliable Ajmal Shahzad was not over exposed when his aggressive approach slipped into waywardness. Nottinghamshire needed a decisive period of acceleration, but were never able to sustain one.
Wickets came at key moments, ridding Lancashire of one opponent after another who might have taken the contest out of their control. Samit Patel executed several lovely shots, especially when he had the chance to play off his hips, but was quickly undone when Simon Kerrigan, the left-arm spinner, came into play just before lunch.
Michael Lumb, who had survived the first threat posed by Chapple and Hogg, which accounted for Alex Hales and Riki Wessels in the first dozen overs, looked even more convincingly set until, just after lunch, a Chapple inswinger pinned him in front.
Adam Voges was the most wasteful in terms of squandering an opportunity. Watchful and measured for more than two hours in a stand of 99 with James Taylor, his desire to up the pace persuaded him injudiciously to dance down the wicket to Kerrigan and, when his swing failed to connect, Gareth Cross had an easy stumping.
Read wasted no time in pushing the score along and Taylor, once he has completed his first Championship half-century for Nottinghamshire, began to match him. They put on 59 in 14 overs and, with 15 overs to get 98 and five wickets still standing, there was still a chance of a home victory.
But after Taylor had been leg before to a Shahzad yorker, a limping Andre Adams, who needed a runner after injuring an ankle while bowling on Friday, drove his first ball back past the bowler only for Chapple, anticipating the shot, to move swiftly around the boundary to take a fine running catch.
"A win would have put us 14 points ahead and Warwickshire would have had to win their game in hand to close the gap so it gives them a bit of an advantage," Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, Mick Newell, said.
"There were some decent partnerships but we needed to be 230 for 3 going into that final session and for someone from that middle order to finish 120 not out and we didn't get that. When Taylor and Andre went in the same over we were out of the game."