County Championship: Warwickshire edge towards safety as Lancashire falter

Keith Barker
Barker struck first with the ball for Warwickshire, after making another key contribution with the bat
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Edgbaston, day three
Warwickshire 219 & 279-7 dec: Ambrose 59*, Trott 42, Westwood 34; Lilley 3-56
Lancashire 152 & 28-3
Lancashire (3 pts) need 319 more runs to beat Warwickshire (4 pts)
Scorecard

Warwickshire need to take seven more wickets to ensure County Championship survival, but Lancashire look in danger of relegation to Division Two.

The visitors are 28-3 after three days at Edgbaston having been set 347 to win, with the Bears declaring their second innings on 279-7.

If Hampshire beat Durham, the losers of this game will go down.

However, Lancashire would stay up at Warwickshire's expense if they force a draw and Hampshire win.

The game at Southampton is finely poised with Hampshire 176-7 in their second innings, leading by 226 - and knowing that they must go all out for victory on Friday, while Durham are safe in mid-table.

After resuming on 12-0, the Bears soon lost makeshift opener Alex Mellor, but he proved the only batsman in the top nine not to reach at least 20, as wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose led the way with 59 not out to set up the declaration.

Lancashire's Kyle Jarvis claimed his 50th Championship victim of the season, while spinner Arron Lilley took 3-56, but Ambrose shared stands of 44 with Rikki Clarke, 38 with Keith Barker and an unbroken 45 with Jeetan Patel, who twice cleared the ropes.

Ian Bell's declaration after tea left Lancashire with an awkward 18 overs to face and the visitors began badly, losing Rob Jones to Barker's seventh ball - the 13th lbw dismissal of the match.

Luke Procter was then lbw to Patel offering no shot, and when Karl Brown edged Chris Wright to Ambrose, it left Lancashire's final-day hopes resting on the young shoulders of England's latest Test call-up, teenage opener Haseeb Hameed, who was unbeaten on 11 from 49 balls.

Ashley Giles' side must make the biggest total of the match against his former county if they are to end a winless run that goes back 10 Championship matches to May.

Warwickshire spinner Jeetan Patel told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

"It was always going to be tough to set them a decent total. They set defensive fields and bowled really well but credit to our batters.

"We were under pressure in the first part of the game, got out of that and now we have piled it back on them. It is pleasing to get to that position and to take those three wickets was really important as it piles more pressure on them.

"They are going to put a partnership together at some point, we know that. But we have to be patient.

"It has been tense out there with a lot of chat about a lot of things. There is pressure but that's exciting. That's why we play this game."

Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"It wasn't ideal us losing that third wicket but I don't mind going out there as nightwatchman. I always want to be out there in the battle and hopefully we can dig in.

"It looked after the first hour that we could be batting for a full session but we managed to slow them down so we faced only 18 overs. Losing three wickets wasn't ideal by any stretch of the imagination but we bat all the way down.

"The sun has baked the pitch. It is a lot slower now and the ball did not turn out of the normal part of the pitch like it did earlier.

"Keith Barker's footholes will leave a decent amount of rough for Jeetan Patel to bowl into so we will have that to deal with, but batting out for a draw is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility."