23 Juin 2017
When Sam Robson came into the home dressing room at Lord’s on the first evening unbeaten on 152 and said the pitch was tricky, his Middlesex team-mates laughed. But 48 hours later they were celebrating the first win of their hitherto shaky title defence, having bowled Yorkshire out twice, and acknowledging that there was merit in what Robson had claimed. For the first time this summer, Middlesex remotely resembled champions.
That it was over shortly after tea on day three was down to the enforcing of the follow-on, with Yorkshire 238 behind, a decision, the captain, James Franklin, described as “a no-brainer” because his bowlers were rested and fresh, but Middlesex have been inclined to decline such opportunities in the recent past. That it had taken them just 32 balls to get the final first-innings wicket, Steven Finn’s 500th in first-class cricket (Ryan Sidebottom caught behind), must have played a part. Poor Gary Ballance, who has 24.6% of Yorkshire’s run this year and is driving beautifully, was left stranded on 69.
Never mind, Ballance was back in soon enough. Adam Lyth’s scratchiness was curtailed by a beauty from Tim Murtagh that took the outside edge, and three balls later the 18-year-old debutant, Harry Brook, had an ill-advised punch at one that seamed and lifted enough to find the nibble. When Toby Roland-Jones located Alex Lees’s edge with one beautifully angled down the slope, Yorkshire had lost three for none in seven balls, and were still 222 behind.
Two balls after lunch, Ballance prodded half-forward to Finn and was caught at the wicket, while Peter Handscomb slapped him straight to point.
Yorkshire’s tail, starting with Adil Rashid at No6, resisted, but Ollie Rayner picked up for of the last five wickets as Middlesex took 23 points to Yorkshire’s three.
This was the Middlesex of last season, with the work shared – all of the frontline bowlers took three wickets, but none more than Rayner’s five in the match – and Franklin was delighted to recover from what he described as “a bit of a towelling” against Lancashire last week. “It was disappointing to lose last week but a defeat can be a good learning curve,” he said. “You never know, it might have been the spark we needed.”
Lancashire had a dream day against Hampshire at Old Trafford. First Dane Vilas racked up an extraordinary 275-ball 244 as he was last man out in their first innings 593, which gave them a lead of 198, then Jimmy Anderson proved he is fighting fit by taking three quick wickets as Hampshire lost their top five for just 50. Anderson bowled beautifully to pick up Jimmy Adams lbw and Rilee Rossouw caught in the cordon in consecutive balls, then he trapped Bailey leg before, too. Ryan McLaren was a helping hand on two fronts: he made a century in a stand of 231 with his compatriot Vilas, then picked up the key wicket of James Vince, caught at cover, for 29.
The leaders, Essex, moved into a dominant position over Warwickshire, the bottom side, and have a chance to extend their lead at the top of the table on the final day. They bowled Warwickshire out for 283, with Simon Harmer recording remarkable figures of 45.4-17-92-6, then enforced the follow-on and picked up the wicket of Ian Westwood and Jonathan Trott, the latter to Harmer. Warwickshire resisted but only Sam Hain, who made his first 50 of the season, and Jeetan Patel, with 71 from No9, were at all effective.
For the second time in as many days, Nottinghamshire made light work of Leicestershire to extend their lead at the top of Division Two by bowling them out for 134 again, and winning by an innings and 280 runs. Inevitably, James Pattinson – whose bowling is surely swift enough to contravene working conditions in Division Two – was in the thick of the action, taking three more wickets to finish with match figures of eight for 71.
Luke Fletcher took three and Jake Ball two, but Stuart Broad bowled just one over due to a slight left heel injury he has been managing since Notts played Glamorgan in Cardiff in May. He is likely to sit out the day-night match against Kent but is not a doubt for the first Test of the summer, against South Africa, starting on 6 July.
“Stuart had a bit of pain in his heel, he’s had it for a while,” said the Nottinghamshire coach, Peter Moores, who seemed unconcerned. “If the situation had been different he could have pushed on through it but there was no need to so he came off and we’ll monitor it and look after him.”
Joe Denly’s career-best 227 turned the tables for Kent against Worcestershire. Having come in in the first over of their second innings, he was last man out as they chalked up 474 to set a target of 399 for Worcestershire, who reached stumps 16 without loss. He put on 149 with Adam Rouse (68) and hit 24 fours and five sixes.
A curious, rain-affected day at the Riverside ended with Glamorgan trailing Durham by 15 runs with eight second-innings wickets in hand.
Durham contrived to lose five wickets for six runs as Paul Collingwood fell for 92, but the last pair, Chris Rushworth and Barry McCarthy, put on 68 to haul them to 402, and full batting points. In response, Glamorgan reached stumps 92 for two having lost their openers, Nick Selman and Jacques Rudolph, to Matty Potts. Durham are still in negative points, and still winless.
Meanwhile, the hopes of Haseeb Hameed, who is yet to register a red-ball half-century this season, of opening the batting against South Africa at Lord’s on 6 July suffered a blow at Canterbury, as he fell for a duck in England Lions’ top order shootout. He edged driving and was caught at third slip against South Africa A but Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings, the captain, took the chance to impress, making 57 and 58 respectively. Nick Gubbins, batting at No4, fell for just four, while Ben Foakes was 77 not out as the Lions closed on 302 for seven.