RESULT - MIDDLESEX WON BY 5 WICKETS
Middlesex remain on course to lift their first county championship title since 1993 after a nail-biting five wicket victory over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Set to score 235, in their second innings, the Division One leaders were indebted to three solid contributions for getting them to their target during mid-afternoon.
Nick Compton was dismissed during the morning session for 63 but John Simpson and James Franklin saw their side over the finishing line with an unbroken stand of 89. Simpson was unbeaten on 58, whilst his captain remained undefeated on 54.
Jake Ball took one of the wickets to fall on the final day, giving him figures of four for 54 to complete a nine-wicket haul in the match.
Whilst their success maintains Middlesex’s undefeated record this season, the loss confirms Nottinghamshire’s relegation to the second tier after nine seasons of top flight cricket.
Hopes of an extended stay of execution were given to them when Ball removed Stevie Eskinazi after an hour of the final morning. Already spilled at slip by Brendan Taylor, from the bowling of Harry Gurney, Eskinazi advanced his score to 30 before edging behind after Ball had returned for a second burst.
Compton appeared determined and confident as he reached his 50 from 155 balls but he was then involved in an unfortunate breakdown of communications with Simpson, which caused his demise. After clipping Samit Patel to midwicket, the former England man set off for a sharp single. Halfway down, he had to turn and head back because his partner hadn’t responded. Jake Libby fielded and threw in to Chris Read, who took the catch above his head and whipped off the bails in enough time to gain the umpire’s verdict.
The dismissal invigorated the home side and their supporters, who burst into life with a forgotten sense of renewed optimism. That belief was soon diminished as the sixth wicket partnership blossomed during the opening hour of the afternoon to bring the victory points within range.
Franklin hit Patel down the ground for the only six of the innings, which also took him to a 78-ball half century, soon after Simpson had got there from nine balls more.
Although Middlesex claimed 20 points for the win, their gap over second-placed Yorkshire has been reduced to just one point, with the sides due to meet at Lord’s in two weeks time.
Nottinghamshire’s loss was their eighth of the season and matches the sequence of 2003 when they also went 14 consecutive championship matches without a win.
LUNCH - DAY FOUR
Nottinghamshire 241 & 240
Middlesex 247 & 151-5
The run out of Nick Compton, late in the session, has left the Specsavers County Championship match between Nottinghamshire and Middlesex in the balance.
Compton fell for 63, leaving the Division One leaders on 151 for five at lunch, still requiring a further 84 to maintain their undefeated record this season.
The visitors began the day on 48 for three, with Compton and Stevie Eskinazi in occupation of the crease and Jake Ball and Harry Gurney sharing the initial bowling duties.
It took 40 minutes before the first opportunity of the day arrived but it went begging as Brendan Taylor put down Eskinazi at first slip, off Gurney. Eskinzai had been on 17 at the time and advanced to 30 before departing, edging behind after Ball had returned for a second burst.
Compton looked solid and reached a chanceless 50 from 155 balls. He appeared set to bat through the session until a mix-up enabled Jake Libby to fire in a return, which Chris Read took above his head and managed to whip off the bails just in time.
John Simpson and James Franklin will start the afternoon, requiring 84 more runs to win.