|Bob Willis Trophy final, Lord’s (day three of five):|
|Lancashire 78: Wood 46*; Miles 5-28 & 171-6: Balderson 65, Wells 41; Norwell 2-32|
|Warwickshire 518: Rhodes 156, Yates 113, Sibley 57; Parkinson 4-78|
|Lancashire trail Warwickshire by 269 runs with four second-innings wickets remaining|
Bad light halted county champions Warwickshire’s march towards the Bob Willis Trophy against Lancashire.
The Red Rose were 171-6, still 269 runs shy of making Warwickshire bat again, when play stopped shortly after tea.
A classy half-century from George Balderson (65) and 41 from Luke Wells came between the Bears picking up wickets at regular intervals.
Earlier the Bears had amassed 518 in their first innings to lead by 440, having resumed on 464-7.
Play was abandoned at about 17:00 BST as the light failed to improve and rain arrived to curtail the third day of the five-day final.
The forecast for the last two days also looks doubtful and should the match finish as a draw, Warwickshire would be awarded the trophy having gained a first-innings lead.
Captain Will Rhodes added just five more runs on the third morning, as his side opted to bat on, before he was bowled by Jack Blatherwick (3-80).
The Bears managed to add another 49 runs for their last two wickets before they were finally dismissed for 518.
Faced with a deficit of 440 after they were dismissed for just 78 in their first innings – and with more than half of the match still to play – Lancashire’s cause was not helped when Alex Davies was run out attempting a quick single to Craig Miles at midwicket.
Davies’ final innings for the county before joining opponents Warwickshire next season saw him make just 11 as he failed to capitalise on being dropped by Danny Briggs at mid-off on five.
Balderson and Wells added 71 for the second wicket either side of lunch before Wells was caught behind off Tim Bresnan.
Two more wickets fell in the afternoon session to reduce Lancashire to 152-4, Liam Norwell (2-32) having Josh Bohannon caught at second slip and Balderson bowled by a beauty of a delivery that clipped the top of his off stump.
Lancashire then lost two more in quick succession after tea, although replays of Steven Croft’s dismissal by Briggs to an apparent edge to Bresnan at first slip later showed the right-hander had missed the ball by some distance.
Their captain Dane Vilas was the last to depart before bad light intervened, when Miles had him caught at second slip.
That left Lancashire still 49 runs shy of avoiding their heaviest first-class defeat, which came against the West Indians by an innings and 220 runs at Old Trafford in 1950.
They will need to score another 70 runs to avoid their heaviest first-class defeat by a county, which came against Yorkshire by an innings and 200 runs at Old Trafford in 1938.
Warwickshire seam bowler Liam Norwell told BBC CWR:
“I think the game’s gone as well as it could’ve so far.
“It’s not often you go out to bowl second time with a lead of more than 400 so we’ve just got to keep putting in the hard yards and hope the weather allows us to take four more wickets.
“We’re still floating on cloud nine after winning the championship and I think that reflected in our bowling on the first morning.
“I had to go straight down to Cornwall for a wedding after winning the title last week so it’s still sinking in and to win this trophy this week would just put the cherry on the season.
“We’ve exceeded expectations this season and now we’ve got to try and live up to it. It will be disappointing if we can’t kick on and set out our stall to carry on being successful.”
Lancashire all-rounder George Balderson told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“I enjoyed that innings. It’s amazing to be here at Lord’s, I’ve never played here before and while the situation in the match isn’t ideal, it was nice to spend some time in the middle and put a score together.
“First innings didn’t go to plan so it was nice to have a second opportunity and I enjoyed it a lot and hopefully I can do it a few more times in my career.
“Somehow I’ve managed to get to the age of 21 and not come to London before so it’s been nice to spend a bit of time in the city.
“It’s a special place to play and I sat down in the changing rooms the other day and took a bit of time to take in all the surroundings and the history.
“I’ve got a few scores this season without being able to kick on and get a big one so it’s been nice to contribute to the side.
“Hopefully I can improve next year and make myself part of this side permanently and contribute a lot more consistently.”