Paul Horton scored his second successive hundred as Lancashire’s cricketers moved closer to LV= County Championship promotion with a strong day two performance against Leicestershire at Old Trafford.
The Sydney-born opener, captaining Lancashire for the first time in the Championship with Glen Chapple out injured, underpinned a first innings score of 344 for four from 97 overs at the close with an unbeaten 150 from 260 balls, including 22 fours.
He scored 111 in the most recent win over Hampshire at Southport and this is his highest score in five years.
With Essex missing out on three batting bonus points in their match at Kent, Lancashire - who have already secured four - need 12 more points to secure a return to Division One and 20 more to go up as champions.
Horton and Luis Reece, who started day two with the score at 92 without loss from 21 overs, took their opening partnership to 137 inside 36 before the latter edged Ollie Freckingham to Greg Smith at second slip to fall for 50.
Reece equalled the Championship record for seven successive fifties without reaching 100, last achieved by Worcestershire’s William Burns in 1906. The left-hander also became the first Lancashire player to score seven successive fifties since Geoff Pullar did it in 1959. No Red Rose player has ever scored nine in a row.
Ben Raine, the former Durham bowler who recently signed a one-year contract at Grace Road, picked up the second wicket when Ashwell Prince edged to Michael Thornely at first slip to leave the score at 163 for two in the early stages of the afternoon.
Simon Katich came to the crease and raced out of the blocks with seven fours in his first 17 balls during his last appearance of the season for Lancashire before heading to India to captain Perth Scorchers in the Champions League t20 later this month.
He went on to pass 50 for the 10th time this season off 54 balls later in the afternoon before Horton reached his second hundred of the season off 193, including 16 fours.
This was shortly after Katich had been superbly caught by a diving Smith at first slip off left-arm spinner James Sykes for 56, leaving the score at 236 for three in the 69th.
After the third-wicket stand of 73 inside 20 overs between Horton and Katich, Horton and Andrea Agathangelou (46) built a fourth-wicket partnership of 107 inside 28 overs.
Agathangelou will have been mightily frustrated to have edged Sykes behind, leaving the score at 343 for four, five balls before bad light ended play with 16 overs still to play. 20 in all were lost in the day.
Leicestershire’s attack certainly bowled better than they did during day one and deserved more reward, especially with the second new ball after tea. Raine and Sykes (two for 61 from 27) were their best bowlers.