|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Emirates Old Trafford (day one):|
|Lancashire 259: Livingston 84, Croft 55*; Sowter 3-42, Harris 3-59|
|Middlesex 39-6: Bailey 5-16|
|Lancashire 4 pts, Middlesex 3 pts|
Lancashire were crowned Division Two champions despite being bowled out for 259 by Middlesex at Old Trafford.
They began the game needing five points to be sure of the title, and their efforts with the bat earned them two.
But second-placed Northamptonshire only managed one of a possible five batting points against Durham, ensuring they can no longer catch the Red Rose club.
Middlesex had 18 overs to bat before the close but ended it in deep trouble on 39-6 as Tom Bailey snapped up 5-16.
Having secured promotion last week, unbeaten Lancashire slumped to 129-5, with skipper Dane Vilas – who has more than 1,000 Championship runs behind him this summer – lbw to Ethan Bamber for a duck.
Liam Livingstone hit a six and 13 fours in his 84 as he put on 53 with Steven Croft, who later ran out of partners on 55 not out, having reached a 100-ball half-century with a six off James Harris (3-59).
Middlesex soon lost Sam Robson, Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan to catches by the keeper at the start of their reply – the latter two in the same Bailey over, with Malan departing for a second-ball duck after limply dangling his bat outside off stump.
And paceman Bailey added the wickets of Martin Andersson, Miguel Cummins and Max Holden to secure a second bowling point for his side and leave the visitors in disarray at stumps.
Middlesex began the game seventh in the table and 36 points outside the promotion places – and need to beat Lancashire and Derbyshire next week, with as many bonus points as possible, to have any chance of a top-three finish.
Lancs fast bowler Tom Bailey told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“It’s particularly satisfying to win promotion with one and a half games to go. We set that goal at the start of the season and it’s good to achieve it.
“The team weren’t too happy with the batting. But we’ve been really good with the bat all year so this is a one-off for those who didn’t contribute. And Livingstone and Croft scored crucial runs.
“Then we came out and bowled the way we have all year and it’s why we’re top of the league. Getting the news that we were champions took the pressure off a little. We were all watching the Northants game and waiting for that last wicket to fall. It was a relief when it did.
“I bowled pretty well but I always seem to do well against Middlesex. I struggled at the start of the season and I didn’t really feel myself. I’m not the quickest of bowlers and I pride myself on being economical. But I now feel that I’m bowling like I did last season.”