LANCASHIRE Women took a giant stride towards promotion into Division One of the ECB Women’s County Championship as they beat their main rivals Devon – but how they were made to work for their victory.

So far this season Jasmine Titmuss’ troops have been too strong with the ball for their rivals but Devon were a different proposition altogether as they batted first at Urmston.

Despite wobbling at the start with both Amara Carr and Lydia Harris falling cheaply, Devon piled on the runs despite being 52-5 at one stage.

Rosalie Fairbairn and Linton Hannah were the stars of the show for Devon as they kept the scoreboard ticking over and they closed their innings on 227-7 from their 50 overs.

Fairbairn finished unbeaten on 96 and Hannah hit 50 to leave Lancashire with a mountain to climb.

Kate Cross was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets but her best was yet to come.

After Emma Lamb (27), Laura Marshall (11) and Jess Couser (37) departed, Lancashire were in danger of heading towards defeat.

But Natalie Brown and Cross turned the tide with brilliant knocks.

Brown plundered 11 fours and one six on her way to 66, while England Ashes winner Cross – one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game – made an unbeaten 63 as Lancashire got over the line with three overs to spare and five wickets in hand.

Lancashire are back in action on Sunday when they entertain Cricket Wales knowing a win will put them on the brink of promotion.

Meanwhile, Clitheroe’s Alex Hartley was involved in a dramatic conclusion to Middlesex’s Division One game with Nottinghamshire.

Having restricted Notts to 194-6, with Hartley claiming 1-24 from her 10 overs, Middlesex seemed to be coasting to victory until they suffered a late clatter of wickets.

Hartley was run out from her first ball in the frantic chase for runs as Middlesex were bowled out just four runs short in a thrilling match.