Cow Corner

County review: Lancashire finally victorious

Cow Corner

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It was a riveting finale to a County season which began back on April 8, and further evidence that English cricket's domestic competitions are still in fine working order.

Lancashire, under the stewardship of former England coach Peter Moores,
sought their first outright Championship title for 77 years on the final day and, to the dismay of challengers Warwickshire, they achieved it.

Lancs chased down a target of 211 runs in frenetic fashion to beat Somerset - who got their just rewards for some pretty 'not cricket' time-wasting techniques (mentioning no names...Alfonso Thomas) - in the final session of the season.

It was a glorious redemptive moment for Moores, whose reputation took the proverbial hammering after he got on the wrong side of England's preening peacock and then captain, Kevin 'coach me the way I want to be coached' Pietersen.

The Lancashire vintage of 2011 has now achieved something that proved beyond the likes of Clive Lloyd, Wasim Akram, Brian Statham, Murali, Stewart Law, Mike Atherton and David Lloyd. The names of Keedy, Croft, Hogg and Cross are now established forever into Lancashire folklore, and their exploits in the club's history for evermore.

Lancashire triumphed in 10 of their 16 games, and there is surely no one churlish enough to claim that they didn't deserve it. No team lost fewer games, either.

With financial constraints preventing them from recruiting big-name overseas players or from poaching players from other counties, Lancashire backed a squad of largely 'home-grown' talent.

Make no mistake, this was a victory for team spirit and hard work under a very fine county coach in Moores and led by the evergreen Glen Chapple.

The County Championship will always have its detractors. But, for the second year in succession, it's produced a breathless, thrilling finish and a worthy winner.
 

Somerset and Surrey meet at Lord's on Saturday with the final piece of silverware at stake in the Clydesdale Bank 40, with everyone still gathering their breath following an enthralling end to the Championship season.

Surrey joined Middlesex in sealing promotion from County Championship Division Two as coach Chris Adams and his team of talented youngsters earned their right to join the big boys.

Oh, and Cowers would be slapped by a Foxes fan for not mentioning the retiring Paul Nixon at least three times in this article, and the first of those mentions can recognise the fact that Leicestershire beat Somerset on a dramatic Twenty20 finals day.

Never mind England repeatedly walloping a hapless India - the drama has been on the county circuit, and what a season it has been.

Painting the picture...

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Leicestershire celebrate their T20 success with streamers, stumps and bubbly - rumour has it that the night ended with a hog roast courtesy of Matthew Hoggard and Paul Nixon bowing out by downing Bollinger from his Foxes cap.

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Nixon had a script written specifically for him, according to many lazy platitudes, as he was on the winning side in his final season. It's safe to say the drinks were not on him in the aftermath...

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Lancashire captain Glen Chapple was clearly delighted with his side clinching the Championship title, but even more ecstatic that the club sponsor was Thwaites brewery - the evergreen all-rounder acknowledges the fact with relish.

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Victory in a tense final session over Somerset at Taunton gives Lancashire the Championship title and the prompting to launch one enormous party in the West Country!

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Steven Finn's absence from the England side this summer has been to Middlesex's benefit, and the happy-go-lucky paceman thrived as 'The Panthers' (as they are known in pyjama cricket) gained promotion from County Championship Division 2.

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It may have been a dramatic finale to the County Championship Division 1 season, but not many spectators were there to see much of it. This is Edgbaston when England are not playing: minus the beer snakes, the tired rendition of Jerusalem and the inebriated afternoon choir.

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Pragyan Ojha is left hanging as he goes for a high-five with his Surrey team-mates, who are jubilant after having clinched their promotion to the top division of the Championship in the final round of matches.

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They may not have the famous swagger of a Surrey side of the mid-90s, but the smugness is there - as is the champagne, as is the beer, as is the cider. Hat-trick.

The big winners...

County Championship Division One: Lancashire (runners-up: Warwickshire)

County Championship Division Two: Middlesex (runners-up: Surrey)

Clydesdale Bank Pro40:Somerset v Surrey (Saturday, 11:30)

Friends Bank T20: Leicestershire (runners-up: Somerset)

Cowers' hero of the season: Glen Chapple (okay, not by runs or wickets, but by sentiment, pipping Nixon).

What was your assessment of the County campaign? And who was your hero of the season? Post your verdicts below...

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