Lancashire centurion Mark Chilton believes their ongoing first-class match against the students of Oxford University is providing ideal preparation ahead of the new season.

The Red Rose begin their LV= County Championship campaign against old rivals Sussex at Liverpool on Friday.

They have not been on a pre season tour this year, while their three days against Kent at Beckenham last week was rain affected.

But Chilton and company have made good use of two largely dry days at the Parks ground, with the right-handed batsman scoring a century on Saturday’s first day to put the visitors in command.

The 34-year-old notched 117 off 148 to anchor his side’s first innings score of 369 all out, well supplemented by scores of 59, 37 and 46 for Paul Horton, Karl Brown and Gareth Cross.

“It’s good match practice, and vitally important for us to get used to that feel of being outdoors again. It’s completely different to being in the nets,” said Chilton.

“Personally, I felt I needed some more time in the middle because I only got 20-odd at Kent last week.

“It was good to get out there for a prolonged period of time. I really enjoyed it.”

Horton and Brown shared 107 for the first wicket, so a score of 369 from there would be classed as under par in a Championship match.

But the positive was that every man, apart from new signing Andrea Agathangelou and Kyle Hogg, got a reasonable amount of time at the crease. Boltonian Brown was out in bizarre fashion because he was run out without realising he was out of his ground whilst waiting for the decision on an lbw shout against him.

Sajid Mahmood and Oliver Newby claimed 4-32 and 4-62 respectively as the hosts responded with 244 all out yesterday.

An impressive 133 for Ed Young, the 21-year-old Gloucestershire player, held the Red Rose up after Oxford had been 43-4.

Agathangelou also claimed four catches at second slip before he opened with Brown in Lancashire’s second innings. They reached 22-0 after six overs.

Kyle Hogg only bowled two overs due to a thigh strain. He is a doubt for Friday’s Championship match.