Lincolnshire CCC defy rain to complete hat-trick of Eastern Division titles

Lincolnshire toast a hat-trick of Eastern Division titles EMN-180609-110334002
Lincolnshire toast a hat-trick of Eastern Division titles EMN-180609-110334002

Lincolnshire CCC secured their Unicorns Eastern Division title for the third successive year with victory in their final match at Cumberland CCC.

Dominic Brown came into the side in place of Adam Tillcock or the trip to Carlisle, while Alex Moor replaced James Kimber.

The start on day one was delayed until after lunch due to wet conditions, and upon winning the toss Lincolnshire elected to bat.

Scoring runs at any great pace proved difficult, and openers Joe Kendall and Jack Timby were dismissed with only 26 runs on the board.

But Louis Kimber settled in and played steadily, the only batsman to play with authority.

Bilal Shafayat and Dominic Brown were dismissed with the score on 92-4, and Kimber and Dan Freeman then took the score to 143 before Kimber fell for a fine 68.

Bad light ended play in the late afternoon with Lincolnshire on 182-5 off 78 overs, with Freeman 33 not out and Carl Wilson 19 not out.

Persistent rain on day two ruled out any play as chances of a victory receded.

Day three began after another delayed start at 11.15am, and Lincolnshire continued their first innings until declaring on 231-8 after 87 overs to secure two vital batting points.

Cumberland forfeited their first innings and Lincolnshire their second innings, leaving the hosts needing 232 to win in a minimum of 78 overs.

Early wickets by Curtis Free, Alex Willerton and Dominic Brown reduced Cumberland to 59-3 before a stand of 47 took the home side over the 100 mark.

But a spell of five wickets for 20 runs put Lincs firmly in control, and at 126-8 were within sight of victory.

The final two Cumberland wickets added 52 further runs, but they were dismissed for 178 inside the final hour of play, to give Lincolnshire a 53-run win Willerton and Free taking four wickets apiece.

The 18-point haul proved enough for another Eastern Division title, and they now face Western Division winners Berkshire in the four-day play-off final at Banbury, starting on Sunday, 16 September (10.30am start).