Lancs skip­per’s praise for new champs Es­sex

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By CHRIS OSTICK

STEVEN Croft ad­mits Es­sex are de­serv­ing win­ners of the Spec­savers County Cham­pi­onship af­ter Lan­cashire’s ti­tle hopes died with de­feat at Som­er­set.

The Chelms­ford-based side have wrapped up the Di­vi­sion One crown with two matches to spare, hav­ing won eight of their 12 games.

Two of the four they have drawn came against Lan­cashire home and away, and in both the Red Rose had the up­per hand.

But with Lan­cashire hav­ing won just four games and draw­ing six, Emi­rates Old Traf­ford skip­per Croft ad­mits the best side won the ti­tle.

“Mas­sive con­grat­u­la­tions to Es­sex. That’s eight games they have won, which is an in­cred­i­ble ef­fort, and they are thor­oughly de­serv­ing win­ners of the Cham­pi­onship,” he said. “We had a close game against them at the start of the sea­son and a cou­ple of other matches could have gone our way with a bit of luck.

“But it was a tough task stay­ing close to Es­sex the way they have been play­ing and we will take a lot of pos­i­tives out of the sea­son.”

Iron­i­cally, Lan­cashire’s ti­tle bid ended on the same ground and on the same date six years af­ter they won the ti­tle them­selves in 2011. Up against it hav­ing fol­lowed on, Lan­cashire lost their last two wick­ets quickly yes­ter­day as they were bowled out for 269 in their sec­ond in­nings, leav­ing Som­er­set a win­ning tar­get of just 68, which they knocked off with seven wick­ets to spare.

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