DAY 4 - CLOSE OF PLAY
MATCH DRAWN
SOMERSET 161/3d
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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DAY FOUR - TEA

MIDDLESEX 129/3

The low-key, rain-affected clash between Middlesex and Somerset appears destined to finish as a dull draw after the visitors reached tea on the final day on 129 for three - for an overall lead of 214 over the reigning champions.

At the break, Tom Abell had reached a season's best 52 not out, while Steven Davies, the former Surrey and England keeper, kept him company with an unbeaten 12.
 
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 (23), followed one from Tom Helm to be caught in the cordon then James Hidreth (23) was caught behind when aiming to cut against off-spinner Paul Stirling. 

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DAY FOUR - LUNCH

MIDDLESEX 16/1

Barring an unlikely and utterly remarkable Somerset batting collapse this Specsavers County Championship clash between last season’s top two first division sides will end in a draw this afternoon.
 
The visitors, pipped by Middlesex in such dramatic fashion for the 2016 honours, went in at lunch on 16 for one having lost Marcus Trescothick (0) in the run up to lunch on the last day. Somerset lead by 101 runs with a potential two sessions of the match remaining.

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DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY

MIDDLESEX 311/7

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.

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DAY THREE - TEA

MIDDLESEX 229/5

Adam Voges and Paul Stirling put on 101 for the fourth wicket but champions Middlesex still found themselves up against it on 229 for 5 at tea as Somerset enjoyed the better of the third day’s first two sessions at Lord’s.

 Wickets for Tim Groenewald, Lewis Gregory and Peter Trego initially reduced Middlesex from their overnight 42 without loss to 116 for 3 in reply to Somerset’s 443 for 9 declared in the Specsavers County Championship Division One match.
 
But Voges, with 82 not out, and Stirling, off the mark with a six over cover off Josh Davey and later swinging 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 Jamie Overton to keeper Steven Davies and, armed with the second new ball, Davey almost immediately produced another beauty to have John Simpson caught behind for 2. Middlesex were left grateful that Voges remained unbeaten at the interval, despite being beaten all ends up by a terrific leg-cutter from Davey.
 
Earlier, opener Nick Gubbins hit 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 former Australian Test batsman Voges arrived to help add 52 for the third wicket.
 
Compton, who added 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 seamer Gregory and inside-edged into his own stumps.

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DAY THREE - LUNCH

MIDDLESEX 118/3

Opener Nick Gubbins hit 56 but was out just before lunch on day three as Middlesex struggled to 118 for 3 in reply to Somerset’s challenging first innings total of 443 for 9 declared in the Specsavers County Championship Division One match at Lord’s.

Gubbins, resuming on 21 in Middlesex’s overnight 42 without loss, lost both his opening partner Nick Compton and No 3 Stevie Eskinazi in the morning’s first hour before former Australian Test batsman Adam Voges arrived to help him put on 52 for the third wicket.

But Peter Trego then moved one back into left-hander Gubbins’ pads to have him lbw with one that also seemed to keep a little low. At lunch Voges was on 30 not out.

Compton, who added just three runs to his overnight 19, was leg-before to a Tim 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 seamer Lewis Gregory and inside-edged into his own stumps.

Earlier in the same over, Gubbins had been dropped on 33 when he mis-hit an attempted pull at Gregory and James Hildreth could not cling on to an awkward catch dropping over his left shoulder as he ran back from mid wicket.

Both Voges and Gubbins, who reached a hard-working half-century from 123 balls, hit left-arm spinner Jack Leach back over his head as they tried to increase a sluggish scoring rate but fast bowler Jamie Overton was especially testing in a pacy spell from the Pavilion End and the Somerset bowlers’ disciplined approach made it hard going for Middlesex.

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DAY TWO - CLOSE OF PLAY

MIDDLESEX 42/0

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.

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DAY TWO - TEA
SOMERSET 387/7
Centuries by Dean Elgar and Lewis Gregory rescued Somerset from the first-day depths of 80 for six to see the West Country county go in at tea on day two sitting pretty on 387 for seven in their County Championship clash with Middlesex.

Elgar, the South Africa Test opener, went after lunch for 158, caught behind off a James Franklin leg-cutter to end a sixth-wicket stand worth 249 - A Somerset record against Middlesex.
Gregory posted three-figures for the first time in his career from 186 balls, but with his score on 137, holed out to long leg just before tea to give Toby Roland-Jones his second wicket of the game.
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DAY TWO - LUNCH
SOMERSET 270/5

A season’s best, unbeaten 132 by Dean Elgar coupled with Lewis Gregory’s career-best 79 not out ensured Somerset dominated the opening session on day two of their Specsavers County Championship clash with Middlesex at Lord’s.

The visiting sixth-wicket partners extended their overnight stand through to an unbroken 190 to send their side into lunch on 270 for five after an extended first session during which the Middlesex seam attack toiled under blue skies.   

The hosts spurned their first 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 to 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.

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DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY
SOMSERSET 161/5
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.
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DAY ONE - TEA UPDATE
SOMSERSET 161/5
Dean Elgar hit a determined 77 not out from 146 balls against Middlesex’s four-pronged seam attack to lead a Somerset recovery to 161 for 5 by the time heavy rain forced the players off for an early tea in the Specsavers County Championship Division One match at Lord’s.

Left-handed opener Elgar had added an unbroken 81 in 20 overs with Lewis Gregory, who was 27 not out having joined the South Africa Test batsman with Somerset struggling at 80 for 5.

When Tim Murtagh had Peter Trego caught behind for 2 from the fifth ball after lunch, 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 Toby 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.

Tom 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.
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DAY ONE - LUNCH UPDATE
SOMERSET 78/4
Bottom-of-the-table Somerset laboured to 78 for 4 from 28 overs in the opening session at Lord’s after choosing to bat first against champions Middlesex.
New ball strikes by Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh initially left Somerset reeling at 20 for 2 but Dean Elgar and James Hildreth led a partial recovery with a stand of 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.
Tom 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, at lunch, only left-handed opener Elgar had held firm with 27 not out.
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.
With a little bit of grass on the pitch to encourage them, and some bounce for the quicker bowlers Helm and Roland-Jones, it was an excellent morning’s work for the four-pronged Middlesex seam attack at the start of a Specsavers County Championship Division One fixture that is important to both sides in the context of their season.