County Championship
County Championship Logo Sun 22 July, 11:00

Lord's, London

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Middlesex win by 18 runs {{ scorecard.match_overview.result }} {{ scorecard.match_overview.toss }} {{ scorecard.match_overview.result }}
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Championship Report: Warwickshire at Middlesex

Day Three – Close

Middlesex beat Division Two leaders Warwickshire by 18 runs in a thriller at Lord’s.

James Fuller claimed three wickets in two spells after tea, sealing victory with a Yorker which squeezed under the bat of Chris Wright.

It ended a heroic last-wicket stand of 22 between Wright and Ryan Sidebottom, so denying Warwickshire a sixth win of the campaign.

They remain top, but with a lead cut to seven points, while victory for Dawid Malan’s means they hang on to the coat-tails of the leading five.

Middlesex began the day 183-6, just 143 ahead and needing their tail to wag as it had done first innings.

Wicketkeeper John Simpson (33) began positively, striking five boundaries and though he lost Ollie Rayner to a fine slip catch by Jonathan Trott off the bowling of Chris Woakes, for a while the hosts stood firm.

However, Simpson was becalmed and eventually undone by a Jeetan Patel delivery which turned a fraction and bowled him off-stump. It gave the stalwart spinner a return of 5-56 – reward for his wizardry.

Fuller paid for his hesitation when he was run out by Woakes’s throw from mid-on without troubling the scorers and Tim Murtagh was last out, also for nought, bowled by Oliver Hannon-Dalby.

Warwickshire, needing 203 were left with an awkward 15 minutes before lunch, in which time Murtagh struck twice. The warhorse of the home attack first produced a peach off an out-swinger to remove Dominic Sibley caught at slip by Ollie Rayner for nought.

Two balls later came the prize wicket of Ian Bell courtesy of one which went the other way and bowled him through the gate to leave Warwickshire 10-2, their lunch a little less digestible.

On the resumption, Murtagh’s new-ball partner Harris (2-55) took up the quest for wickets, bowling first-innings centurion Will Rhodes with one which kept a fraction low.

Trott remained batting with composure until a brilliant tactical change brought about his downfall. Simpson stood up to the stumps to keep the veteran in his crease whereupon Murtagh produced a full ball to snare him right in front.

Woakes didn’t stay long, pinned LBW by Rayner, meaning Warwickshire were in trouble at 64-5.

But in another twist Sam Hain (37) and Tim Ambrose swung things back towards the men from the midlands with an increasingly assured stand of 44.

Harris ended Hain’s resistance when another LBW shout was upheld, but Ambrose (41), so often the scourge of Middlesex, steered his side to tea without further loss, by which time only 61 were needed.

The hosts needed someone to rid them of the dangerman and Fuller stepped up in the first over after the restart, finding an edge which flew to Rayner’s safe hands at slip.

And when Murtagh (4-54), unusually for him, now bowling from the Pavilion End trapped Patel in front Middlesex were favourites.

Fuller then struck again when Hannon-Dalby nicked through to Simpson with 41 still needed.

Amid unbelievable tension, last pair Wright and Sidebottom inched towards the target in singles.

Thirty-five became 30 and then 20, Wright surviving a shy at the stumps which would have seen him short of his ground.

Balls whistled past the edge too, but just when it seemed Warwickshire might sneak home after all Fuller had the last say.

Day Two – Stumps

Warwickshire skipper Jeetan Patel bowled his side back into control against Middlesex with a late four-wicket burst on day two of their Specsavers County Championship clash at Lord’s.

Patel, who ended the day with figures of 4-38, initiated a Middlesex middle-order collapse as four wickets went down for 27 runs to leave the home side just 143 ahead at the close.

Middlesex had earlier restricted the Bears to a first-innings lead of just 40 after bowling them out for 276, despite a career-best 118 from opener Will Rhodes.

Stevie Eskinazi’s 73 in Middlesex’s second innings appeared to have earned them parity – but Patel’s efforts ensured that the Division Two leaders will go into the third day as strong favourites.

Resuming 84 behind at 152-4, Warwickshire soon lost night-watchman Chris Wright, who was caught behind off James Harris for 14.

Chris Woakes, making his first red-ball appearance of the season, faced just eight balls before he also fell victim to Harris, attempting to glide one down the leg side.

Tim Murtagh, Ollie Rayner and James Fuller all picked up a wicket apiece, but Rhodes continued to thwart them as he progressed to three figures for the second time this season.

With last man Ryan Sidebottom at the other end, Rhodes adopted a more aggressive approach and hit Harris for four consecutive boundaries, including two paddle shots.

He eventually took another swing at the Middlesex bowler, who managed to hold an awkward top-edged catch to finish with figures of 4-84.

That earned the visitors a 40-run advantage, which still held when they made the breakthrough in Middlesex’s second innings – an almost exact repeat of Paul Stirling’s performance first time around.

The Ireland international began briskly again, hitting 16 all in boundaries before falling to a slip catch – this time providing Woakes with his first wicket of the game.

With Oliver Hannon-Dalby again obtaining plenty of swing from the Nursery End and the sky starting to cloud over, Eskinazi and Nick Gubbins found themselves under pressure.

But the Middlesex pair went for their shots and put together a century partnership that ended when Gubbins (47) was unlucky to be given out lbw to a Patel delivery that appeared to be missing leg stump.

Eskinazi, who reached his third half-century of the season with a boundary off Woakes past third man, seemed well set as he steered the Middlesex total past 150.

However, he was Patel’s second victim, pushing to short leg – and Eoin Morgan, having scratched around for three from 25 balls, became the spinner’s third when he was trapped in front of the stumps.

Middlesex’s situation worsened when Max Holden (8) drove Patel into the hands of mid-off and Hannon-Dalby flattened the wicket of Dawid Malan (28) with the first ball of the next over to leave them 183-6 at the close.

Day One – Stumps

Will Rhodes’ unbeaten half-century gave Division Two leaders Warwickshire the edge on the first day of of their clash with Middlesex at Lord’s.

The Nottingham-born left-hander made the most of being dropped on seven to pass 50 for the fourth time this season in the red-ball game.

His efforts steered the visitors to 152-4 after they had dismissed the hosts for 236.

Warwickshire opted to toss, but were left happy to have lost it after their change bowlers wreaked havoc in the morning session.

The host’s decision to promote Paul Stirling to opener backfired when after four early boundaries the Irish international edged the last ball of Chris Wright’s opening over to Ian Bell at slip.

Nick Gubbins though took heavy toll of some loose new-ball bowling with Chris Woakes, in his first County Championship game of the season, struggling for rhythm as the 50 came up inside 10 overs.

The introduction of the recalled Oliver Hannon-Dalby however induced a dramatic collapse. The 29-year-old found prodigious swing, bowling Gubbins with a Yorker which ripped out his leg-stump.

Stevie Eskinazi edged Wright loosely to slip in the following over and when another boomerang deliver from Hannon-Dalby flattened Eoin Morgan’s off-stump Middlesex were 60-4.

Worse followed when second change Ryan Sidebottom (3-34) found the edge of Dawid Malan’s bat. It would the first of three wickets in 10 balls for the Australian-born quick who had first John Simpson and then James harris caught behind, reducing the Seaxes to 76-7.

Middlesex would have been out of the game altogether but for a counter-attacking stand of 86 either side of lunch by Max Holden and James Fuller.

The latter, two days on from his white-ball six-fer in T20 played belligerently from the off, striking Woakes for a huge six over mid-wicket en route to a 60-ball half-century, his first in the Championship for more than two years.

Holden provided staunch support with some elegant drives, just missing out on a half-century when Jeetan Patel turned one a fraction to trap him LBW for 48.

Ollie Rayner also proved a valuable ally for Fuller in a ninth-wicket stand of 51, before Wright (3-48) returned to have him caught behind by Ambrose for 28.

By the time Fuller missed a full toss from the impressive Hannon-Dalby (3-41) to be last out for 71, Middlesex had at least reached respectability.

Buoyed by their tail having wagged Middlesex began well with the ball, Harris pinning Dominic Sibley LBW for 14 having had an equally vociferous shout turned down the ball before.

Tim Murtagh, who’d probed away in his usual nagging fashion then trapped Ian Bell in front to leave The Bears 29-2.

However, a chance to seize the initiative was missed when Malan dropped Rhodes at third slip off Harris.

Reprieved, Rhodes settled down and he and Jonathan Trott took charge in a stand of 85 and such was their control it was a shock when the former England man fell three short of a deserved half-century sweeping at Rayner.

Sam Hain’s batting struggles continued when he fell to Murtagh becoming the fourth LBW victim of the innings.
However, with Rhodes standing firm Warwickshire hold a narrow advantage heading into day two.

Woakes to return for the Bears at Lord's

Chris Woakes will return for the first time this season when Warwickshire visit Middlesex tomorrow seeking to extend their lead at the top of Specsavers County Championship Division Two.

A storming start of five wins from seven games has left the Bears top of the table by 11 points and an 24 points ahead of third-placed Sussex.

Now they will face Middlesex at Lord’s aiming to complete back-to-back away wins having won their most recent four-day game, against Durham at Chester-le-Street, by 86 runs before heading into the Vitality Blast.

They will do so with England star Woakes on board, the all-rounder having returned to fitness following quad and knee injuries. He will be eager to put in a strong performance to underline his fitness ahead of the first Test against India which starts at Edgbaston on August 1.

It will be only Woakes’s fourth first-class appearance of 2018, the first three having arrived against New Zealand in March, Pakistan in June and India A earlier this month. Warwickshire fans will hope his return to county duty is a good omen – his first championship appearance last season was also against Middlesex at Lord’s and he helped the Bears to a 190-run win.

That match was notable for an eye-catching debut by Ryan Sidebottom who took six wickets in the match. The Bears will be hoping for more of the same from the former Berkswell seamer who, though injury-affected, has shone again in the championship this season, taking 13 wickets at just 18.15 apiece.

Absent from the seam attack at Lord’s will be Keith Barker who is on paternity leave, whilst seamer Henry Brookes with a back injury.

Facing Warwickshire will be a Middlesex side which was relegated with the Bears last season but has taken longer to adjust to life in Division Two. They sit fifth in the table, 56 points behind the Bears, having won two and lost three of seven games so far.

They will be hoping to start turning their fortunes round tomorrow on what is Middlesex’s annual Ladies Day at Lord’s – admission for all female spectators is free.

When Foster's preparations failed to pay off

Jeetan Patel will lead Warwickshire into Specsavers County Championship action against Middlesex at Lord’s on Sunday aiming to lead them to another win to cement their lead at the top of the Division Two.

What Patel almost certainly won’t do is turn up late on the third day having taken a team-mate for a Turkish Bath and game of snooker.

If Warwickshire’s captain does do that, however, he wouldn’t be the first. Brian Halford reports.

Frank Foster was a brilliant cricketer, perhaps the best ever to play for Warwickshire.

The pair then treated themselves to a shave, haircut and shampoo, and had a game of snooker, before deciding to get a cab to Lord’s.

Robert Brooke author of Frank Foster’s biography

Birmingham-born Foster was a wonderful, clean-hitting batsman, a devastating, left-arm bowler (he pioneered bodyline 20 years before the infamous Bodyline Series) and an inspirational leader.

In 1911, aged just 22, Foster led Warwickshire to their first county championship triumph, scoring 1,383 runs at 44.61 and took 116 wickets at 19.15 along the way. The following winter he took 32 wickets against Australia to power England to Ashes victory down under.

‘FRF’ was a scintillating cricketer. What he was not was totally reliable. He was a true maverick, as illustrated when Warwickshire visited Lord’s for a championship match in 1913.

After two days under the cosh, the Bears were set to resume on the final morning on 0/1 in their second innings. In reply to Middlesex’s 483, Foster’s side was bowled out for 329 so followed on requiring 143 to avoid an innings defeat.

They lost the important wicket of Tiger Smith late on the second day so prepared to resume on the third on 0/1.

To save the game, they needed to bat all day. A great collective effort was required. They needed everyone to contribute. First and foremost, they needed everyone there, but at start of play there was no sign of the captain.

Ever a bon viveur, Foster had woken up with a shocking hangover and, along with team-mate Willie Hands, paid a recuperative early-morning visit to a Turkish Baths. As Robert Brooke wrote in his excellent biography of Foster The Fields Were Sudden Bare, the pair “then treated themselves to a shave, haircut and shampoo, and had a game of snooker, before deciding to get a cab to Lord’s.”

While that cab picked its way through the capital’s streets, over in St John’s Wood, Warwickshire did not fare well.

They slumped to 17 for seven as the two latecomers finally made it to the ground. At 20 for eight, Foster was still not ready to bat but while Hands and Sydney Santall eked 13 runs from the ninth wicket he at last got round to padding up. The captain finally went in at 33 for nine and slogged 27 before Hands was bowled to leave Warwickshire 63 all out.

The collapse, on a perfect batting wicket, was inexplicable – though there was speculation among Warwickshire fans that the team had arrived at Lord’s that morning already with an eye on Ascot races that afternoon.

It is unlikely that Jeetan Patel has any plans for a morning trip to a Turkish Bath during the game which starts on Sunday. The captain’s focus will be entirely on his team trying to replicate their excellent championship win at Lord’s last season, a victory which owed plenty to a dazzling debut (match figures of six for 70) by Ryan Sidebottom.

Sidebottom is far from the only Warwickshire player to have happy history in championship cricket at Lord’s. Two seasons ago, Jonathan Trott unfurled a superb unbeaten 219 there. On that hallowed turf did Ian Bell secure his career-best bowling (4-1-4-4 in 2004) while it was also the scene of Tim Ambrose’s only first-class wicket (Adam Voges on April 20th, 2016) and Chris Wright’s first in the championship (Kent’s David Fulton on April 27, 2006).

So which Warwickshire players shine at the home of cricket this week?

Opposition Overview: Warwickshire vs Middlesex – Specsavers County Championship 2018

Middlesex Overview

Specsavers County Championship: Division 1 (2017 performance – 7th)

Royal London One-Day Cup: South Group (2017 performance – 8th)

Vitality Blast: South Group (2017 performance – 7th)

Captain: Dawid Malan

Coach / Director of Cricket: Richard Scott/Angus Fraser

Overseas Players: Ashton Agar (Vitality Blast), Hilton Cartwright

Ins and Outs: In: None. Out: Ryan Higgins (to Gloucestershire), Harry Podmore (to Kent).

Man on a Mission

Nick Gubbins. After bursting onto the scene in Middlesex’s title-winning campaign of 2016, when he amassed over 1,400 first-class runs, Nick Gubbins endured a lean spell last season which ended with a hamstring injury.

The young left-hander’s England Lions call-up last winter brought little respite, but two impressive centuries in the recent South v North series fuelled hopes that he has turned the corner – and although he missed the third game with a fresh hamstring injury, he is making good progress towards an early return.

Gubbins remains on England’s radar as a potential long-term successor to Alastair Cook, giving him every incentive to plunder bowling attacks in Division Two during the coming season.

One to Watch

Tom Barber. Left-arm pace bowlers are a rare sight on the county scene – and, given Middlesex’s wealth of seam options, eyebrows may have been raised when the county offered Tom Barber a contract.

Released by Hampshire, the 22-year-old caught the eye in Minor Counties cricket with Dorset and did enough in two T20 appearances for Middlesex last season to earn himself a permanent deal.

Although still raw, Barber undeniably possesses genuine pace – as has already been recognised by the England set-up following his inclusion in the ECB Pace Programme this winter. He now has the chance to prosper further under the tutelage of Middlesex’s bowling coach Richard Johnson.

Local Hero

Toby Roland-Jones wrote his name into Middlesex folklore in 2016 with his unforgettable hat-trick against Yorkshire to seal the Seaxes’ first County Championship title in 23 years.

That moment highlighted Roland-Jones’ progression from first-change line and length exponent to strike bowler – and deservedly ushered him into the England frame.

Although injury denied him a place on the Australia tour, the Ashford-born seamer remains a strong candidate to feature in Test cricket again this summer.

However, in a season where forcing wins is of even greater importance, the Middlesex faithful can rely on Roland-Jones to lead the hunt for wickets.

Prospects for 2018

Smarting from their controversial relegation last season, Middlesex’s immediate focus will be on regaining County Championship Division One status at the first attempt.

In addition to that self-imposed pressure, Angus Fraser’s men are saddled with the burden of being the bookies’ favourites for promotion.

With 10 wins required to achieve that feat last season, Middlesex’s prospects of success will hinge on taking 20 wickets on a regular basis.

On paper, their bowling resources are sufficiently strong – with the likes of Tim Murtagh, Toby Roland-Jones, Steven Finn and Tom Helm all capable of match-winning stints.

However, Middlesex may need a fresher, more aggressive style of leadership, epitomised by the appointment of Dawid Malan – who oversaw a strong T20 campaign as skipper two years ago – as captain for all formats.

Although Malan’s availability may be restricted by England commitments, Middlesex have ample cover in the batting department.

Eoin Morgan has signalled his desire to resume red-ball cricket after a three-year hiatus – only to suffer a broken thumb facing Barber in the nets – while former England Under-19 captain Max Holden is also pushing hard for a spot.

Middlesex’s chances are strengthened by the fact that Lord’s will stage all their home four-day fixtures this season.

The arrival of Australian all-rounder Ashton Agar should boost the county’s prospects of an improved showing in white-ball cricket – where reaching the knockout stages would represent progress.

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