While there are potentially two more days of contest left in the Championship race, Nottinghamshire’s first innings collapse to Sussex has left Lancashire’s claims very weak indeed. Of course, any team with Mushtaq Ahmed in form – not to mention a superb cameo from Rana Naved – is bound to find themselves in good stead, but I can’t help but feel for Lancashire. Many suggested that this would be their season, and for good reason; despite injuries, their attack has fired consistently and their batsmen have been impressive.
Where they may consider themselves unfortunate is the sheer amount of rain-affected matches they have played. Six of Lancashire’s draws were washouts where they had looked strong, with eight games drawn in total. Sussex, in comparison, have had five. Most recently, having been on a level peg until very recently, Lancashire have had two games they dominated lost to the weather. Sussex, meanwhile, managed to scrape together a win and a draw against Kent and Hampshire respectively.
Such are the quirks of the domestic game in this country, especially considering many Championship games are pushed to the extremes of the season to leave the prime weather to the money-earners of Twenty20 and Pro40. As it is, the red rose looks set to finish in second place for the 5th time since the ’98 season. The last time they finished there, of course, was in 2003 – Sussex’s first, and for the moment only, Championship title. Not a piece of history Mark Chilton will be very happy to repeat.