Report: Warwickshire v Middlesex, County Championship
Warwickshire were left to rue their first innings total as Middlesex completed an eight wicket victory at Edgbaston.
Toby Roland-Jones’ side began this match in the relegation zone but never looked back after bowling out the home side for 60 on the first morning.
Their seamers were again too good for Warwickshire on the third morning when they wrecked the intended rearguard action by taking the last six wickets for 35 runs in 67 balls to bowl them out for 232. Ethan Bamber took four for 71 (nine for 91 in the match) while Tom Helm took three for 58 and Ryan Higgins added another two wickets to his excellent all-round performance throughout the match.
Their excellence left Middlesex a target of 94 in 178 overs and they reached 97 for two (Mark Stoneman 52 not out, 88 balls) in 25.1.
The victory, and the intense, ruthless and highly-skilled cricket that delivered it, is a colossal boost for Middlesex who will face three of their last four games away from home when the Championship resumes in September. For Warwickshire, the thrashing offers another twist to their highly fluctuating season which has brought cricket of both extremes. They will be very keen to welcome back leading wicket-taker Chris Rushworth after his hamstring injury for their last four games.
Just as the first morning had exceeded Middlesex’s wildest expectations, so did the third. When Warwickshire resumed on 189 for four, 7.3 overs remained before the new ball was available. To their undisguised delight, Middlesex removed both overnight batters in those 45 balls.
The big wicket arrived first when Sam Hain (69, 196 balls) inside-edged Josh De Caires to become the spinner’s 21thvictim with the ball across the formats and wicketkeeper John Simpson’s 873rd victim with the gloves.
Nine balls later, Higgins knocked out Jake Bethell’s off stump which meant that the new ball was aimed at two new batters. Neither lasted long. Michael Burgess cut Bamber for successive fours but the next ball knocked out two stumps. When Ed Barnard left a Higgins delivery which removed off-stump, he became the eighth Warwickshire batter in the match to be bowled. Olly Hannon-Dalby soon became the ninth when Bamber uprooted out his off peg and Mir Hamza the tenth when Tom Helm rearranged his furniture.
Only something spectacular could save Warwickshire but instead Middlesex eased home as Stoneman posted his 71st first-class half-century (and first that he has reached with four over long on off Rob Yates on a Thursday). Jack Davies pulled the winning boundary at 2.36pm to resounding cheers from the visitors’ balcony and the intense disappointment of the home fans who, without any red ball cricket to watch at Edgbaston in August, will now have none tomorrow either.
Warwickshire coach Mark Robinson said: “On the first morning the ball nipped about and seamed in good bowling conditions. No wicket is ever a 60 all out wicket but sometimes these things happen against good bowlers. Today was different. That collapse today shouldn’t have happened. There were mitigating circumstances on the first day but you can have no excuses for today – that was poor,
“I think we are a bit tired and one or two players haven’t scored runs recently and they have got a bit of self-doubt. When you are tired and have a bit of self-doubt you lose a bit of intent and that can affect your decision-making so we need to look at how we can manage our energy better.
“It’s been quite a tough schedule but we need to manage it better and, from a coaching point of view, work out how we can protect the players and keep giving them confidence to take the game on. I’ve got no issues with the 60 all out but today we were timid.
“We’ve been outplayed and outbowled but it is frustrating because we worked so hard yesterday to get overs in their legs and tire their bowlers out but then to lose six wickets for 35 runs today was inexcusable.
“We have a young batting unit which will get better and we will use this experience as part of that process. There is loads this season that we are really pleased about. The disappointment is the last couple of games because we had a great win at Kent but then we had home advantage for a couple of games and want to prosper in them but it hasn’t happened.
“There is lots to be encouraged about, though, and now what we need to do is use the 50-over and Hundred break to come back to red ball cricket recharged with four games to go which we will look to win.”
Warwickshire’s advances with the bat were slowed by bad weather on the second day of their LV=Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.
After chaos came calm as the frenetic opening day of 312 runs for 22 wickets was followed by a soporific second which delivered 136 for two from 56.3 overs before rain wiped out the last session.
Warwickshire, having been bowled out for 60 on the first morning, closed the second day on 189 for four in their second innings, leading by 50, after Sam Hain (66 not out, 174 balls) and Dan Mousley (58, 151) dug in to add 110 in 45 overs.
Middlesex remain very strongly placed but the home side have clawed their way back into the game. If Warwickshire can bat deep and set a target of around 250 they will scent a remarkable victory, though the absence of injured leading wicket-taker Chris Rushworth (42 wickets at 18.26 this season) means the pendulum is still massively in Middlesex’s favour.
After Warwickshire resumed on 53 for two, 86 behind, it was immediately clear that the pitch is no minefield. Their implosion for 60 first time round was due partly to good bowling in helpful conditions but also to careless batting.
There was nothing careless about Hain’s work as he knuckled down diligently much as he did as an 18-year-old debutant against Middlesex at Edgbaston in 2014 when he scored 42 in 137 minutes.
Nine years on, he lost only one partner in the morning session when Rob Yates (30, 62 balls) edged a lovely away-cutter from Ethan Bamber to wicketkeeper John Simpson. That was the 872nd victim of Simpson’s excellent career but he was kept waiting for number 873 as Hain and Mousley displayed the discipline that Warwickshire’s batters had lacked the previous day.
Defending resolutely and leaving astutely, they reached their half-centuries (Hain 131 balls, Mousley 122) in successive overs and it was a surprise when they were parted. Mousley pulled a short ball from Tom Helm straight into the hands of Ryan Higgins at deep mid-wicket and thumped his bat hard into his pad in frustration as he headed towards the pavilion instead of towards the maiden century that beckoned.Jake Bethell joined the implacable Hain for seven overs until bad light intervened and then rained arrived to end play with 39.3 overs unbowled, nine seagulls on the covers and Simpson still thirsting for his 873rd victim which will put him just 350 behind Middlesex’s all-time record snaffler John Murray (1,223).
Warwickshire all-rounder Dan Mousley said: “So much happened yesterday that today we just had to go out there and scrap as hard as we could to get ourselves back in the game. I think we did really well. We have a lead of 50 and if we can keep building and get that to a lead of 200 that really puts us in with a sniff in the game.
“The pitch has had three heavy rollers on it now and has definitely got flatter but there is still enough there for the bowlers. Bamber bowled a few that you’re not hitting with two bats so it’s just getting through that and keeping out what you can and then scoring when the opportunity arises. There’s definitely enough there with our bowling attack so if we can put a decent target on the board hopefully we can come away with a win.
“I always enjoy batting with Hainy. The team needed a partnership today so that’s what we concentrated on, not looking too far ahead and just taking it step by step. It was a good partnership and it was very frustrating to get out the way I did.
“I picked out the man at deep square but, with a short boundary, that one should have gone in the river, to be honest. It’s only a 50-metre boundary that side and in T20 you’re hitting that ball out of the ground 90 per cent of the time so I didn’t see it as a particularly risky option, I back myself to clear the fielder but I hit it straight down deep square’s throat. It was frustrating because me and Hainy had got to a position where we were in a really good spot.”
Middlesex took advantage of winning a valuable toss on the opening day of their LV=Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire were skittled for their lowest championship total (60) since 1982 (43 v Sussex at Edgbaston) as Ethan Bamber took five for 20 and skipper Toby Roland-Jones three for 27. The seamers skilfully exploited helpful conditions but were abetted by some flawed defensive shots.
Middlesex then replied with 199 (Ryan Higgins 53, 72 balls, Ed Barnard and Mir Hamza both three for 49) for a first innings lead of 139 – and there was still time on a chaotic day for the home side to lose two wickets second time round, reaching 53 for two by the close.
When Roland-Jones won the toss, he hoped his seam attack would make early inroads – to have the home side 17 for five after 23 minutes did that job.
It all started swimmingly for Warwickshire as both openers struck their first ball for four, but Roland-Jones launched the clatter with a lifter which Alex Davies gloved to the wicketkeeper. Two balls later, the skipper sent a full-length ball into Will Rhodes’ stumps.
Bamber then found Sam Hain’s edge and Sam Robson took a slick catch at second slip. A simpler chance, offered by Rob Yates off Roland-Jones, was also accepted by Robson before Bamber bowled the entire middle order in 44 balls. Dan Mousley and Jake Bethell were bowled through the gate, Michael Burgess was castled by one that kept low and Ed Barnard’s off-stump was clipped by a peach of an outswinger.
When Henry Brookes edged Higgins to third slip, number 11 Mir Hamza found himself striding in at 12.20pm. He was soon making the return journey after nicking a pull at Higgins.
In ten minutes batting before lunch, Middlesex lost Robson who edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to first slip. Soon after the interval, Steve Eskinazi edged Hannon-Dalby behind and Mark Stoneman fell lbw to Mir Hamza who then bowled Max Holden through another open gate.
After diligent innings of 18 (66 and 54 balls respectively) from Jack Davies and Jon Simpson were ended by fatal edges, Higgins and Josh De Caires counter-attacked. For the first time the pressure was turned on the bowlers as the seventh-wicket pair added 71 in 18 overs.
Higgins has damaged Warwickshire in the past with the ball, notably with 11-96 for Gloucestershire in the Bob Willis Trophy at Bristol in 2020. This time he biffed seven fours and a six on his way to his 18th first class fifty before becoming the first of three wickets for Barnard. Higgins was bowled, De Caires (37, 56 balls) skied a slog and Roland-Jones (21, 15 balls) struck the ball into the crowd at long on but clipped off a bail with his after-stroke and departed hit-wicket.
When Bamber fell lbw to Hannon-Dalby, Middlesex had a chunky lead of 139 and, remarkably, Warwickshire were in again for 13 overs. Their traumas continued as Davies sliced Bamber into the cordon to add a first-baller to his morning second-baller and Rhodes nicked an indiscrete waft at Tom Helm. That was careless from the captain but it was Warwickshire’s morning of mayhem that has left them in a cavernous hole.
Warwickshire Assistant Coach Ian Westwood said: “They bowled well this morning in helpful conditions, it’s fair to say. It probably did a bit more than we were expecting but we just weren’t able to show any ability to stay there or counter what they were throwing at us. It was a really disappointing morning.
“There was a lot of seam movement and some good balls flying around. They have got a good attack to exploit those conditions and they bowled nice and straight and targeted the stumps with enough movement there.
“I’m not sure any pitch is a 60 all out pitch. You need everything to go against you for that to happen. If we could have got another 50 even and then restricted them things would look different, but we fought back well in the last session with Yatesy and our tempo in the last session was good so we are still in the game, that’s for sure.
“I think it showed at the end there it was becoming a little bit easier to bat on. I’m sure there will be some good balls throughout the game but it’s pretty simple what we have got to do now – get as many ahead of them as we can and bowl them out.”