County fall short as Lancashire wrap things up

James Middlebrook made 87 in the County's second innings (Picture: Dave Ikin)
James Middlebrook made 87 in the County's second innings (Picture: Dave Ikin)

It had the makings of a tense finish but in the end it was anything but.

Northamptonshire’s aim of putting a positive number in their win column was instead achieved by Lancashire who completed a 60-run victory in an efficient manner.

It was tough on the hosts, and James Middlebrook especially who had worked hard for his rewards, but the task of chasing down a target of 240 was always going to be difficult.

Next up for the County is a trip to Durham University and a week out of the competition probably won’t be a bad thing given an injury list that doesn’t seem to want to improve.

What does need to be rectified is the lack of output from the top order which, if allowed to continue unchecked, will make any improvement in results hard to come by.

With the contest unlikely to go beyond lunch whatever the outcome, the opening half an hour was always going to prove decisive with regards to the eventual outcome and that is exactly what came to pass.

An understandably cagey start had seen a dozen runs knocked off the 95 needed before Anderson, who was yet to concede a run, induced a leading edge from Ben Duckett and clung onto a diving return catch.

There was still hope given the depth of the County’s order but this dwindled further when Steven Crook rashly attempted a pull and only succeeded in giving mid-on a simple catch and Anderson his second ten-wicket haul in three Championship outings.

But while James Middlebrook was holding fort all was not lost, however lengthy the odds had become but the game was as good as up when, 13 shy of three figures, he sliced Glen Chapple to point.

With Anderson giving nothing away at one end, the run rate dried up to the point of being non-existent and it was left to Kabir Ali to mop up the last couple of wickets as he had Olly Stone caught behind before cleaning up Muhammad Azharullah.