Lancashire 291 (Croft 90, Norwell 5-78) and 329 for 6 (Wells 175*, Jones 66) beat Warwickshire 292 and 327 for 9 dec (Davies 121, Brookes 55) by four wickets

Lancashire strengthened their position among the LV=Insurance County Championship Division One leaders after a perfectly executed run chase led by Luke Wells‘ unbeaten 175 brought them a four-wicket victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

The Red Rose, set a target of 329 in a day and four overs, reached 329 for 5 with 24 balls to spare.

They were in jeopardy at 93 for 4 but Wells, who hit 22 fours and a six from 280 balls, batted beautifully alongside Rob Jones, who scored 66 off 138 balls, in a fifth-wicket stand of 162 in 45 overs.

Lancashire’s third win of the season keeps them within reach of Division One leaders Surrey at the halfway point of the season. Reigning champions Warwickshire, meanwhile, with just one win from seven games, have it all to do to retain their title and sit too close to the opposite end of the table for comfort.

Lancashire resumed on the final morning on five without loss, needing to make the highest total of the match to win. They added only another 14 before Olly Hannon-Dalby struck twice in an over. Keaton Jennings edged to third slip and, three balls later, Josh Bohannon fell lbw.

When Steven Croft was lured into driving at a wideish ball from Henry Brookes and edged to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess, the Red Rose were 53 for 3.

Dane Vilas’ frustrating match with the bat then continued. Given out caught when he appeared not to have hit the ball in the first innings, his second knock ended in different but equally exasperating fashion… run out backing up. A sweetly-timed straight drive from Wells was diverted on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end by Liam Norwell – rotten luck for the Lancashire captain, but credit to the big paceman for getting down quickly to parry the ball onto the stumps.

That was the only wicket to fall in the afternoon session as Wells and Jones consolidated to take their side to 167 for 4 at tea, at which point, with 162 runs or six wickets needed from a minimum of 35 overs, all results remained possible.

On a flattening pitch, Wells and Jones played with increasing freedom to take Lancashire into the last 20 overs needing 91. Jones fell in pursuit of his 11th four, well-caught at deep square leg by Alex Davies, but the wicket did not stem the run-flow as George Balderson (33 from 43 balls) helped Wells seal the victory with a measured partnership of 70 in 12 overs.