London: Lancashire were relegated to the Second Division of the County Championship on Friday after their decisive showdown with fellow strugglers Middlesex ended in a draw.
Glen Chapple`s side needed a victory at Old Trafford to avoid the drop and send Middlesex down instead but, after bad weather took 14 overs out of the last day, the visitors closed out the draw on 341 for eight declared and with no prospect of a successful chase of 253 in the hour remaining.
Chapple, 40, had performed heroics to keep Lancashire`s hopes of survival alive when he scrambled the necessary extra batting bonus point 24 hours earlier.
But neither he nor the best efforts of Junaid Khan (three for 84) and Simon Kerrigan (three for 106) could break Middlesex`s resistance as Lancashire were relegated for the second time in three years.
"Whatever would have happened in this game we would have said we needed to improve. We have to be honest with ourselves," said Chapple, who has been both captain and coach since Peter Moores left to take charge of England.
Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser added: "I think it`s been the longest four days of my life.
"You wake up at three o`clock every morning with your head spinning and wondering the ramifications of `what could happen today`.
"I`m obviously relieved and proud of the way we responded to the challenge."
Lancashire will join already relegated Northamptonshire in the second tier next season, with Hampshire and Worcestershire taking their places after securing promotion from the Second Division.
Yorkshire had already been crowned First Division champions earlier this month.