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AXA League: Lancashire well primed to pull off historic treble

By Stephen Thorpe at Old Trafford

8 September

Lancashire (202) bt Hampshire (186-7) by 16 runs

LANCASHIRE clinched the AXA League Trophy last night - their fourth Sunday League title and third one-day double - by the relatively wide margin of 16 runs.

But Hampshire pushed them close in a highly-charged atmosphere in fading light, and were still in the frame with Nixon McLean in residence with two overs remaining.

But Glen Chapple's stunning catch, one of three wickets for Peter Martin, off a towering straight drive by McLean, was probably pivotal.

The game was more a gala occasion before a large crowd, with Lancashire needing only to avoid defeat to collect their second major trophy in two days. The big one - the County Championship has a clutch of other interested parties, but Lancashire are primed to pull off an historic treble.

A feeling persisted that Hampshire were along simply to make up the numbers, though victory would have confirmed a place in Division One of the 50-over National League next season, and a third-wicket stand of 96 between Robin Smith and Will Kendall, who made 44 apiece, briefly threatened to quash the notion.

Wasim Akram won the toss, but Lancashire were soon constricted by the Hampshire attack. John Crawley was held at backward point by Shaun Udal, before Mark Chilton worked across a straight one from Peter Hartley.

Graham Lloyd was eclipsed during Andy Flintoff's 47-ball half-century, celebrated with his third six, pulled over square leg off McLean. Shortly afterwards, he perished for 69, caught at long-on off a low full toss from Dimitri Mascarenhas.

After Lloyd went to a smart leg-side stumping by Adrian Aymes and Wasim chipped a return catch, Hampshire continued to profit from Smith's astute captaincy as Lancashire struggled past 200. McLean had three late wickets from a flailing tail, but Cardigan Connor's nought for 18 from eight overs was crucial.

Certainly a joyous air of celebration pervades Old Trafford and the future, too, has a rosy hue. Work has already started on a new hotel adjoining the pavilion and due for completion by spring. The 43,000 AXA prize will not go amiss either as this memorable season draws to a close.

The situation regarding Wasim's apparent impeding departure, the arrival of Muttiah Muralitharan for 10 weeks after the World Cup and the installation of Crawley as captain was unconfirmed last night.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 08 Sep1998 - 10:30