Lancashire’s cricketers were able to celebrate the presentation of the Second Division championship trophy in style after completing a 104-run defeat of Middlesex in a thrilling contest at Emirates Old Trafford.
Needing 270 to win on the final day, Middlesex were bowled out for 165, with Tom Bailey taking 5-41 in the innings for a match return of 10-119.
But the visitors made a fine contribution to this game as Martin Andersson’s career-best 83 prolonged the contest almost an hour into the final session.
Yet the visitors’ pursuit had begun atrociously, when they lost three wickets for one run in eight balls and were thus 3-3 after 23 balls.
Nick Gubbins was bowled for one playing no shot to Bailey, and Max Holden was lbw to the medium-quick bowler’s next ball. Although Dawid Malan saved the hat-trick, the Middlesex captain collected a pair next over when his attempted clip to leg off Graham Onions only gave a catch to cover fielder Bailey off a leading edge.
Saqib Mahmood conceded four boundaries to Andersson but Onions restored Lancashire’s dominance when he had Sam Robson lbw for 14, leaving Middlesex on 55-4 at lunch.
The only batsman dismissed in the afternoon session was John Simpson, lbw to Matt Parkinson for five, and Middlesex entered the final session needing 144 off 36 overs with only five wickets in hand.
However, any prospects of victory were quickly ended as Bailey had James Harris caught behind by Vilas for 38, ending an 81-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Two overs later the same bowler had Toby Roland-Jones lbw for five and just five balls later Nathan Sowter was caught at slip by Keaton Jennings off Matt Parkinson for a single.
Bailey’s dismissal of Cummins, caught behind by Vilas for nine, completed the ninth five-wicket haul of his career, five of them against Middlesex.
But the honour of taking the last wicket at Old Trafford this season fell to Mahmood, who bowled Andersson via an inside edge to end his 167-ball innings and preserve Lancashire’s unbeaten record.
In the first 45 minutes of the day Lancashire had added 56 runs in 9.5 overs, Parkinson making a career-best 14 and Steven Croft contributing 40 off 67 balls before losing his middle stump to Harris.
Parkinson had earlier been caught behind by Simpson off Toby Roland-Jones.
Red Rose captain Vilas said: “It’s obviously amazing. After the disappointment we went through last year it’s incredible to be here now and I don’t think you could have scripted it any better.
“It was a hard-fought four days against a good side in Middlesex and to win the title here on a lovely Thursday afternoon in front of the members is perfect.
“It’s so good to have remained unbeaten, to have played some great cricket and to lift the trophy with a game to go.
“I feel so proud of the boys and what we have achieved this season. It’s going to give me and the whole team great memories.
“We’ve played some good cricket and we’re going up with great momentum but it’s going to be hard to do well in Division One.”