v Somerset 02-05 Jun

Match Report Specsavers County Championship 02 June 2017

Middlesex
Somerset
DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY
SOMSERSET 161/5
MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK
Dean Elgar maintained his prolific start to the county season by leading Somerset’s recovery to 161 for 5 against Middlesex at Lord’s with a determined 77 not out.

A burst of heavy rain in late afternoon, followed by bad light, meant only the first half of the Specsavers County Championship Division One match’s opening day was possible, but there was still time for Elgar to rally Somerset from a perilous 80 for 5 in the company of his sixth wicket partner, Lewis Gregory, who remains unbeaten on 27. Together, they have so far added 81 in 20 overs.

South Africa Test batsman Elgar now has 390 championship runs at an average of 55.71. In the recent Royal London One-Day Cup group stage he scored 428 runs in just five innings at an average of 107 and, overall, he has now topped fifty in nine of his 14 innings to date in both competitions.

The left-handed opener, indeed, has been an early-summer shining light for Somerset in an otherwise underperforming championship batting line-up and his 146-ball effort was vital as wickets tumbled with regularity at the other end after Somerset had opted to bat first in warm but muggy conditions.

The ball swung for Middlesex’s four-pronged pace attack, with Tim Murtagh and James Franklin finding marked movement in the air, and there was also some bounce available for the taller and quicker bowlers Tom Helm and Toby Roland-Jones.

When Murtagh had Peter Trego caught behind for 2 from the fifth ball after lunch, moreover, it looked as if Somerset would be regretting their decision to bat first. But Elgar, mixing stout defence with 12 fours, at last found in Gregory a partner who could stay with him.

Four wickets had fallen in the morning session, with new ball strikes by Roland-Jones and Murtagh initially leaving bottom-of-the-table Somerset reeling at 20 for 2.

Elgar and James Hildreth added 46 before Hildreth fell for 25 to a stunning slip catch by Ollie Rayner. Hildreth edged a drive at James Franklin’s left-arm seamers and Rayner, at second slip, took off to his right to hold a brilliant diving catch.

Helm, switched to the Pavilion End for his second spell, then had Steven Davies caught at the wicket for 6 – edging a sharply rising ball – and Somerset lunched at 78 for 4.

Marcus Trescothick was the first Somerset batsman to depart, caught at third slip for 8 off Roland-Jones after playing and missing several times at Murtagh, who then produced a perfect away-swinger from the Nursery End to have Tom Abell taken at the wicket for 6.

Abell, the 23-year-old and under-pressure Somerset championship captain, has now scored only 96 runs from nine innings in the four-day game at an average of 12, but even that is riches compared to the out-of-form Davies’ wretched return of 67 runs from eight innings at an average of just 8.37.

DAY TWO - CLOSE OF PLAY

MIDDLESEX 42/0

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

Reigning Specsavers county champions Middlesex appear on course for the fourth successive draw of an uninspired Division One title defence after Somerset enjoyed the best of a sun-kissed second day at Lord’s.

As the Middlesex bowlers endured a wicketless morning session, centuries by Dean Elgar and Lewis Gregory allowed the visitors to bat on until well after tea before their declaration on 443 for nine. 

In the 22 remaining overs of an extended 104-over day that helped make-up for Friday’s rain delays, Middlesex went in at stumps to reach the mid-point of the match on 42 without loss – a first innings deficit of 401. Their openers, Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins, endured a stern test to finish unscathed on 19 and 21 respectively.

Somerset were indebted to a record sixth-wicket stand between Elgar and Gregory that rescued their side from the depths of 80 for six to the undoubted riches of four batting bonus points.

Elgar crunched a season’s best 158 while Gregory, in hitting 137, sailed past his previous best – an unbeaten 73 scored against Yorkshire at Headingley last season – to post his maiden first-class century in his 78th innings.

Middlesex spurned their one and only pre-lunch opportunity whilst gifting a life to Gregory with his score on 31. Fencing at a lifting delivery from Toby Roland-Jones, the right-hander was downed, one-handed at second slip by Ollie Rayner who, moving late to his right, appeared to lose the ball in the backdrop. 

Soon afterwards, Gregory rubbed salt in Middlesex wounds by plundering consecutive, cover-driven boundaries against Roland-Jones to move to an attractive 84-ball 50 with 10 fours.

Elgar, the South Africa Test batsman, posted his second century of the season with a straight six against off-spinner Rayner. The left-hander danced down the pitch to deposit one over the Nursery End ropes and reach the milestone from 186 balls and with 15 fours to go with his maximum. It was the 31st first-class hundred of his career and his first at Lord’s.  

The pair saw off the second new ball and batted on after lunch to take their side beyond 300. In doing so they created a new sixth-wicket record for Somerset against Middlesex, beating the 196 scored by Peter White and Maurice Tremlett at Bath in 1959.

Gregory marched on to secure his maiden first-class hundred with a leg glance against Tom Helm that flew to the ropes in front of the Pavilion. He punched the air, fist-bumped with Elgar and embraced his partner before holding his bat aloft to receive the acclaim for his 186-ball century with 15 fours.    

The duo added 249 before Middlesex bagged their first wicket in 70 overs’ play by ending Elgar’s six-and-three-quarter-hour vigil. It needed a beauty to do so; a James Franklin leg-cutter from the Nursery End that held its own against the Lord’s slope to feather the edge and give John Simpson his fourth catch of the match.     

Gregory added a further 47 in tandem with Josh Davey but finally went after 333 minutes at the crease. Aiming to pull a length ball from Roland-Jones, he top-edged to long leg where Tom Helm pocketed the skier. Gregory faced 231 balls and his 17 fours and a six.

Davey muscled a cameo 47 against his former club before top-edging a pull to mid-wicket to give Helm a second scalp, then Jamie Overton (37) skied to long-on to be caught by 12th man James Harris. Substituting for Roland-Jones, Harris – who has returned from a second rolling-loan stint with Kent – made good ground running in from the ropes for Rayner’s sole wicket of the innings as Somerset declared nine down at 5.10pm. 

Tim Murtagh, Roland-Jones, Helm and Franklin all claimed two wickets apiece for the weary Middlesex attack.

DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY

MIDDLESEX 311/7

MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK

A calf muscle injury to Adam Voges is a potentially serious blow to champions Middlesex, who also found themselves having to work hard to avoid following on against Somerset during an attritional third day at Lord’s which ended with them on 311 for 7 in reply to the visitors’ 443 for 9 declared. 

Voges, the 37-year-old former Australian Test batsman, had to be helped from the field and retire hurt after sustaining the damage to his right leg as he set off for the gentle legside single off Jamie Overton which took him to 86.
 
Peter Waxman, the Middlesex physio, said: “Adam has hurt his right calf but we will not know the extent of the injury until we can assess it over the next 24 hours. We’ll see how he is in the morning and then take it from there.”
 
Middlesex were 245 for 5 at the time, having lost Paul Stirling and John Simpson in quick succession either side of the second new ball, and Voges’ departure suddenly left them in a vulnerable position – especially as Toby Roland-Jones then edged Tim Groenewald to Steven Davies behind the stumps to go for 1 at 248 for 6.
 
But Ollie Rayner hit a robust 29 and joined Middlesex captain James Franklin in a stand of 42 which took them almost to the 294 they needed to avoid the follow on.
 
Rayner was bowled by the fiery Overton two balls after a break for bad light but Franklin then struck left-arm spinner Jack Leach for two fours in an over to take his side past the follow on target before bad light brought a further short delay. When play finally ended at 7.10pm, two overs early due to more poor light, Franklin had moved to 38 not out and secured a third batting bonus point for his side.
 
Voges and Stirling had put on 101 for the fourth wicket but it was Somerset, last year’s Specsavers County Championship runners-up, who enjoyed much the better of the day with a highly-disciplined bowling effort. 
 
With Voges unlikely to be able to bat again in the match, Somerset would have fancied their chances of putting Middlesex under real pressure on the last day if they had split the Franklin-Rayner partnership earlier, but they could not do it on what is still a flat surface.
 
Morning session wickets for Groenewald, Lewis Gregory and Peter Trego initially reduced Middlesex from their overnight 42 without loss to 116 for 3 but Voges and Stirling, who was off the mark with a six slashed over cover off Josh Davey and later swung Gregory high over mid wicket for six in his 77-ball 52, then counter-attacked with a mixture of watchful defence and powerful strokes.
 
Stirling, however, after also hitting six fours, edged the pacy and impressive Overton to keeper Davies and, armed with the second new ball, Davey almost immediately produced another beauty to have John Simpson caught behind for 2. Then came the Voges injury, the Roland-Jones dismissal but, finally, the Franklin-Rayner alliance which looks as if it has made this game safe for Middlesex.
 
Earlier, opener Nick Gubbins completed a determined 56 but was out just before lunch when Trego moved one back into left-hander’s pads to have him lbw with one that also seemed to keep a little low.
 
Gubbins, resuming on 21, lost both his opening partner Nick Compton and No 3 Stevie Eskinazi in the morning’s first hour before Voges arrived to help add 52 for the third wicket.
 
Compton, who added just three runs to his overnight 19, was leg-before to a Groenewald off-cutter in the fifth over of the day and Eskinazi had made just 6 when he aimed a back foot offside force at Gregory, another of Somerset’s five seamers, and inside-edged into his own stumps.
DAY 4 - CLOSE OF PLAY
MATCH DRAWN
SOMERSET 2ND INNS: 161 for 3
MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK
The top two first division sides of 2016 continue to search for their opening wins of this season’s Specsavers County Championship campaign after Middlesex and Somerset settled on a rain-ruined draw at Lord’s.

The two sides shook hands at 4.50pm with Somerset on 161 for three, representing an overall lead in the match of 246 runs. Visiting skipper Tom Abell was unbeaten with 71 while Steve Davies contributed 23 to an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 60.

The hosts, who have now drawn the opening four matches of their lethargic title defence, banked 10 points. While Somerset, who finished runner’s up last season and have yet to win from their five starts, travelled west with 11 points.

Batting again by 12.40pm and having secured a first-innings lead of 85, Somerset lost veteran opening bat Marcus Trescothick with only a single on the board. The former England left-hander ducked into a well-directed bouncer from Toby Roland-Jones to glove a looping catch to wicketkeeper John Simpson and exit without scoring.

After lunch Dean Elgar, fresh from his first innings 158 that moved him beyond the 10,000-run milestone for his first-class career, had just posted his 500th run of the championship summer only to fall for 33. Hanging his bat out to dry against Tom Helm, the left-hander edged into the cordon to be snaffled by Ollie Rayner at second slip.

Conversely, Somerset’s captain and No3, Abell, who went into the game with less than 100 runs to his name from his first four championship starts, set out to bat time in a bid to reverse his run of poor form.

The Taunton-born right-hander featured in a stand of 42 with James Hildreth that ended when Hildreth departed to the third ball of the match from Middlesex off-spinner Paul Stirling. Making room and shaping to cut, Hildreth toe ended to the keeper and went for 23.     

Abell marched on, moving past his modest season’s best of 40 just before tea to reach his 10th first-class 50 from 111 balls and with six fours.  

The clouds converged soon after tea forcing a short break for bad light, after which Simpson, the Middlesex wicketkeeper, removed his pads, tossed the gloves to Stevie Eskinazi and sent down his maiden over in first-class cricket.   

Simpson, Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins took turns in serving up a series of long-hops and full-tosses to end the match on a somewhat farcical note.

At the start of the final day, Middlesex had batted on for another 14 overs in adding 47 to their overnight, first-innings total.

Somerset made their first breakthrough after an hour to break an eighth-wicket stand between Tom Helm and James Franklin that added 62 inside 21.2 overs. Playing back in defence to Lewis Gregory’s first ball of the day from the Pavilion End, Helm lost his off stump to a shooting off-cutter to depart for a career-best 28.

Last man Tom Murtagh then sliced a drive off Gregory straight to cover point to leave Franklin marooned on 49 not out and end the innings. Adam Voges’ retirement on Sunday with a calf injury ensured he played no further part in the home reply although his unbeaten 86 had eventually helped take his side to within 85 of the Somerset first innings.       

The day started memorably for Middlesex opening batsman Nick Gubbins who received his commemorative, embroidered Middlesex county cap from India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar during a presentation in front of the pavilion. On an otherwise sombre Monday at Lord’s, however, the county flags flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to the victims of Saturday night’s London Bridge terror attack.

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