The Blackpool Century was a career highlight for Steven Croft of Lancashire

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Steven Croft celebrates a career milestone at Blackpool by leading Lancashire to t…

Blackpool-born Croft’s jaw-dropping tonnage on his 600th career appearance saw the Red Rose chase Notts’ 339 at Stanley Park to secure a semi-final against Sussex at Hove tomorrow.

Croft’s 115 from 105 was the main contribution as Lancashire secured a three-wicket victory with nine balls remaining to delight a crowd of 1,000 on Friday.

Steven Croft has twice played starring roles in Lancashire’s wins at Blackpool this season

The 37-year-old said: “I think in terms of the white ball, it’s going to be there for me.

“A hundred unbeaten at home to qualify for the semi-finals is something I will not forget.

“It’s a very nice feeling to be there at the end and get the guys through to the semi-finals.”

Lancashire were struggling at 237-6 in the 38th and needed 85 from the last 10.

But Croft shared 94 with seventh-wicket partner Danny Lamb, who contributed a crucial 43 before falling with just eight runs needed.

Nottinghamshire’s 338-8 was backed by an excellent 104 from 122 from flyhalf Ben Slater, while Matthew Montgomery contributed 78 and Sol Budinger 56.

After conceding an unsuccessful 79 from 10 overs, Lancashire could have chased a similar target to the 371 they revamped against Northamptonshire on the same ground a week earlier.

Croft’s century came out 95 balls but his celebration was reserved compared to when he hit the winning runs.

And the lowly Croft was quick to praise his teammates. He added: “It was wonderful teamwork.

“Lamby’s shot at the end was equal to mine and everyone contributed with bat and ball in all competitions.

“We had a great win here a week ago, chasing around 50 others, so we knew it was doable.

“The pitch has slowed down a bit from last week but we always knew how much you can score here in the last 10 overs with a set of guys and wickets in hand.

“I would say it was a well-calculated chase, although we wouldn’t have mind losing a few less wickets. It was a good game.”

Blackpool has proved a happy hunting ground for Lancashire and local hero Croft this summer.

The Red Rose stalwart also featured in the first of four games of the season at Stanley Park, scoring a crucial half-century unbeaten run in a Vitality Blast six-wicket win, also against Notts in June.

Those four visits to the Fylde coast this summer resulted in three thrilling victories in Lancashire – and just one washout, against Durham in the Blast – as Blackpool successfully reaffirmed its second home status for the Red Rose after four years without a first XI County Game.

Friday’s first knockout tie in the One-Day Cup was set for Blackpool at short notice, with Emirates Old Trafford unavailable because of the Hundred, but still drew a bumper holiday crowd.

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