Specsavers County Championship, Emirates Old Trafford (day one of four)
Lancashire 259: Livingstone 84, Croft 55*; Harris 3-59
Middlesex 39-6: Bailey 5-16
Middlesex (3 pts) trail Lancashire (4 pts) by 220 runs
Lancashire were crowned champions of Division Two in the Specsavers County Championship during the opening day of their clash against Middlesex at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Red Roses came into the game knowing that they only needed five points to clinch the title. However, events elsewhere meant that the two bonus batting points were enough to secure the trophy.
Liam Livingstone (84) and Steven Croft (55*) both hit half-centuries as Lancashire posted 259 under sunny Manchester skies.
Livingstone arrived with the score placed at 88 for three after Alex Davies (16), Keaton Jennings (22) and Josh Bohannon (19) failed to push on after making starts.
The 26-year-old batted beautifully, striking 13 fours and a straight six in his 101-ball knock. It was his fourth half-century of the season and his second in as many matches after his 71 against Derbyshire last week.
He shared sixth wicket partnership worth 53 with Croft before falling LBW to Ethan Bamber in the 49th over of the day.
Croft remained and batted steadily as the tailenders faltered – Lancashire all out shortly after 4.30pm.
Lancashire’s bowlers came out to bowl and were accurate from the start. Tom Bailey and Graham Onions were on the money and asked questions of Middlesex’s openers.
Halfway through the eighth over, ex-England international Onions had Sam Robson caught behind for eight. Middlesex lost their next two wickets in the following over as Bailey took two in three to dismiss Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan. The Seax’s were in bother at 15 for three.
Middlesex moved on to 23 runs, but Bailey took three for 11 in eight balls to collect the eighth five-wicket haul of his career. The spell saw the Prestonian take five wickets in 24 balls as he finished the day with figures of five for 16.
The visitors ended the day in the mire at 39 for six, trailing by 220. James Harris and John Simpson will resume in the morning unbeaten on five and four respectively.
WHAT THEY SAID
After an exhilarating day of cricket and a sublime spell of bowling, Bailey said: “I think I bowled pretty well today. We’re in a good position and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
It was his fourth five-wicket haul against Middlesex and he said: “I always seem to do well against Middlesex.
“I think I struggled at the start of the season and I didn’t really feel myself and I now feel that I’m bowling like I did last season.
“I’m not the quickest of bowlers and I pride myself on being economical,” he added
Photo credit: Barry Mitchell