MIDDLESEX WIN BY AN INNINGS AND 64 RUNS
MIDDLESEX 446 a/o
YORKSHIRE 208 a/o & 174 a/o
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Toby Roland-Jones again pressed his England Test claims as he spearheaded an innings and 64-run Middlesex victory inside three days against Yorkshire at a sweltering Lord’s. England start their four-match series against South Africa at Lord’s on July 6, and Roland-Jones has a strong case to be included.
Roland-Jones took his season’s first-class wicket tally to 22 at 31 runs apiece as Yorkshire were bowled out for 208 and 174 after being asked to follow on in reply to Middlesex’s first innings’ 446. Middlesex take 23 points, and Yorkshire just three.
On a pitch producing more variable bounce, the accuracy and pace of Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh made them a testing proposition and, with Ollie Rayner, Steven Finn and James Franklin also chipping in, Middlesex made sure of their first Specsavers County Championship victory of the summer – at the sixth attempt.
It has been a frustrating start to their title defence for the champions, who lost one and drew four of their first five matches, but they will now go to Chelmsford next week to take on early Division One pace-setters Essex with renewed belief that this result will kick-start their four-day campaign.
This was also a fourth successive championship win for Middlesex against Yorkshire at Lord’s, following last September’s epic in which they clinched the title with Roland-Jones finishing the match with a hat-trick.
Here the strapping 29-year-old grabbed the key wicket of Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance with the second ball after lunch, a beauty which moved up the Lord’s slope to take a thin edge through to keeper John Simpson, after earlier removing opener Alex Lees with another fine ball delivered from the Pavilion End in his opening spell.
Lees fell for 14 as Yorkshire lost their first three wickets in just seven balls, with Murtagh striking twice in four balls in his fourth over to send back Adam Lyth for 2 and Harry Brook for a third-ball duck. It was in his fourth over that Roland-Jones then had Lees smartly held by Rayner at second slip from a ball angled across the left-hander.
Lyth edged a good one low to Simpson, who took a neat tumbling catch behind the stumps, while 18-year-old debutant Brook – struck on the gloves by the first ball he faced – wafted weakly at a rising ball to give Simpson another catch.
Murtagh’s final figures were 11-7-13-2, and Roland-Jones’ 2 for 46. Off spinner Rayner, who enjoyed himself as Yorkshire’s tail was polished off, earned himself a return of 4 for 35 but it was the new ball pair who did the terminal damage.
Yorkshire were reeling at 16 for 3 after Murtagh and Roland-Jones’ early successes, but Ballance and Peter Handscomb briefly rallied them with a stand of 36 until Roland-Jones returned to cut that short. Handscomb made 21 before spearing a short ball from Finn straight to cover and Andrew Hodd was the next to go, for 15, when he played inside a ball from Rayner that held its line down the Lord’s slope and was bowled.
Adil Rashid’s 35 ended with a poor stroke and an edge through to Simpson, when left-arm seamer Franklin angled one across him and, after tea, Ben Coad pulled Rayner straight to mid wicket to depart for 8 and Ryan Sidebottom offered a few defiant blows in a final wicket stand with Steven Patterson before inside-edging a reverse slap at Rayner on to his pad and into the hands of silly point.
Earlier, resuming their first innings on 186 for 9, Yorkshire’s last wicket pair resisted for 20 minutes before No 11 Sidebottom, having just whipped Finn off his pads for four, edged the fast bowler to keeper Simpson to go for 9.
At least, by then, Ballance had hit Finn for three successive fours to earn his side a single batting bonus point. On 53 overnight, Ballance finished with 69 not out from 123 balls, with twelve fours.
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DAY THREE - TEA
YORKSHIRE 153/8
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Middlesex were within two wickets of their first win of the Specsavers County Championship season after reducing Yorkshire to 153 for 8 by tea on day three at Lord’s.
Earlier, Yorkshire had been forced to follow on 238 runs adrift of Middlesex’s 446 after resuming their first innings on 186 for 9 and being bowled out for 208 after twenty minutes’ batting.
Gary Ballance, Yorkshire’s captain, finished 69 not out and at least earned his side a solitary batting bonus point but, in again later in the day, he edged the second ball after lunch – from Toby Roland-Jones – to keeper John Simpson to go for 19.
Yorkshire had lost their first three second innings wickets in just seven balls with the total on 16 – two in four balls in Tim Murtagh’s fourth over and then Alex Lees, caught at second slip for 14 off the ever-impressive Roland-Jones.
Adam Lyth (2) and Harry Brook, who bagged a third-ball duck, were Murtagh’s new ball victims and, as Middlesex worked their way through Yorkshire’s middle and lower order, the wickets were shared out among the other bowlers.
Peter Handscomb (21) speared a long hop from Steven Finn to cover, Andrew Hodd was bowled by off spinner Ollie Rayner as he played defensively forward and Adil Rashid’s 35 ended when he edged behind a flash at James Franklin’s left-arm seamers.
Jack Brooks was then caught at mid on for 12 trying to hit Rayner over the top, but Steven Patterson (21 not out) and Ben Coad (8 not out) saw things through to tea.
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DAY THREE - LUNCH
YORKSHIRE 52/3
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Yorkshire, following on against Middlesex at Lord’s after being bowled out for 208 early on the third morning, then lost three wickets in seven balls before reaching lunch still 186 runs adrift at 52 for 3.
Tim Murtagh struck twice in four balls in his fourth over, removing Adam Lyth for 2 and Harry Brook for a third-ball duck, and in his fourth over Toby Roland-Jones then had Alex Lees smartly held by Ollie Rayner at second slip for 14.
Lyth edged a good one low to John Simpson, who took a neat tumbling catch behind the stumps, while 18-year-old debutant Brook – struck on the gloves by the first ball he faced – wafted weakly at a rising ball to give Simpson another catch.
That left Yorkshire 16 for 3 but Gary Ballance and Peter Handscomb rallied them with an unbroken partnership of 36 on a pitch producing more variable bounce. Champions Middlesex, however, remain overwhelming favourites to complete what would be their first Specsavers County Championship win of the season, at the sixth attempt.
Resuming their first innings on 186 for 9, in reply to Middlesex’s 446, Yorkshire’s last wicket pair resisted for 20 minutes before No 11 Ryan Sidebottom, having just whipped Steven Finn off his pads for four, edged the fast bowler to keeper Simpson to go for 9.
At least, by then, Yorkshire captain Ballance had hit Finn for three successive fours to earn his side a single batting bonus point. On 53 overnight, Ballance finished with 69 not out from 123 balls, with twelve fours.
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DAY TWO - CLOSE OF PLAY
YORKSHIRE 186/9
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Middlesex are on course to claim their first win of the season after taking seven Yorkshire wickets after tea on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Lord’s.

Replying to Middlesex’s 446, Yorkshire collapsed from 88 for 2 to 178 for 9 to a mixture of poor shot selection and some probing bowling, particularly by Toby Roland-Jones who took the key wickets of Adam Lyth and Peter Handscomb.

The only prolonged resistance for Yorkshire came from Gary Ballance, who held the innings together with an unbeaten half-century, and a composed 38 by teenager Harry Brook. They closed on 186 for 9, trailing by 260.

A total of 446 might have been short of what Middlesex had targeted when they had been 364 for 4 but with deliveries starting to keep low on a pitch which has baked in 30-degrees heat for the last two days Yorkshire’s batsmen found it tough.

Lees (4) could consider himself unfortunate to fall leg before to a ball which pitched well outside the line and a brief spell of Yorkshire supremacy followed as Lyth and Brook, an 18-year-old from Keighley making his Championship debut, added 68 for the second wicket.

Brook revelled in his surroundings and was soon scoring runs all around the wicket including six fours, two of them off successive balls from Steven Finn.

But shortly after tea off-spinner Ollie Rayner surprised him with extra bounce and Brook was well held at short leg by Steve Eskinazi. Lyth (37) had gone just before tea when medium-pacer Ryan Higgins beat his defensive shot to claim his maiden Championship wicket.

Toby Roland-Jones returned with an impressive spell from the Nursery End which gained its reward when Handscomb (15) edged to slip on the drive before Finn returned to bowl Adil Rashid (0) off an inside edge for a duck and later have Ben Coad (14) caught behind.

Andy Hodd (0) bottom-edged a pull at Tim Murtagh onto his stumps before Higgins returned to pick up Steve Patterson (1) and Jack Brooks (0), to a ball which scuttled onto his stumps.

Ballance enjoyed some luck but passed 50 for the eighth time this season when he drove Rayner back down the ground for his ninth four just before stumps.

Yorkshire had dominated the first session, taking the last six Middlesex wickets for 80 runs before the hosts were dismissed just after lunch.

The key dismissal was that of Sam Robson, who batted for just short of seven hours for his 159 when he drove at Coad and was caught behind, having faced 290 balls and hit 19 fours.

Coad broke through again 13 balls later when a nip-backer removed Higgins’ off stump for 13 to give him his 33rd wicket of the season.

His double strike also checked Middlesex’s charge towards maximum batting points, which they failed to achieve, and they lost two further wickets just before lunch during an excellent spell by Ryan Sidebottom from the pavilion end.

The veteran left-armer struck twice in nine deliveries as John Simpson (49) played on looking to guide the ball to third man and Rayner (2) was held at mid-on off a spliced pull.

After lunch, Rashid finished things off when Roland-Jones (33) drove to cover and Finn failed to pick his googly.

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DAY TWO - TEA
YORKSHIRE 86/2
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Yorkshire made a solid start to their reply after bowling out champions Middlesex for 446 just after lunch on the second day of the County Championship match at Lord’s.

Alex Lees fell for four, lbw to Toby Roland-Jones although the ball pitched outside off stump, but Adam Lyth and 18-year-old debutant Harry Brook put on 68 for the second wicket with Lyth contributing 37 before he was caught behind off a ball angled across him from Nick Higgins, who claimed his first Championship wicket.

Brook impressed with 37 not out including six fours, two of them taken off successive deliveries from Steven Finn.

Earlier, Yorkshire had taken six wickets for 80 runs as Middlesex, who had begun the day on 337 for 4, were dismissed for 446.

Ben Coad and Ryan Sidebottom each took two wickets with Coad picking up Sam Robson for 159 after the Middlesex left-hander had batted for just under seven hours.

After lunch, Adil Rashid polished off the innings when Toby Roland-Jones (33) drove to point and Steve Finn was lbw to his googly for four. Rashid finished with 3 for 94 but pick of the attack was Sidebottom, who finished with 3 for 69.

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DAY TWO - LUNCH
MIDDLESEX 421/8
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Ben Coad and Ryan Sidebottom each took two wickets as Yorkshire fought back against champions Middlesex on the second day at a sweltering Lord’s.

Coad removed Sam Robson for a magnificent 159 when the left-hander played a rare false shot in an innings of nearly seven hours duration, driving loosely to be caught behind. He faced 290 balls and hit 19 fours.

Coad, who had replaced Jack Brookes at the Nursery End, broke through again 13 balls later when a nip-backer removed Ryan Higgins’ off stump for 13.

The wickets stymied Middlesex’s charge towards maximum batting points, which they failed to achieve, and they lost two further wickets just before lunch during an excellent spell by Sidebottom from the pavilion end.

The veteran left-armer struck twice in nine deliveries as John Simpson (49) played on looking to guide the ball to third man and Ollie Rayner (2) was held at mid-on off a spliced pull.

Toby Roland-Jones was unbeaten on 24 at lunch with Middlesex 421 for 8.

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DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY
MIDDLESEX 337/4
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Sam Robson hit a season’s best 152 while Paul Stirling posted a maiden championship century as Middlesex reached 337 for four to dominate the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match with Yorkshire.

A Lord’s crowd approaching almost 4,000 enjoyed the dominance of bat over ball as third-wicket partners Robson and Stirling batted 45 overs – including the entire mid-session – in adding 187 on yet another placid pitch at the ‘Home of Cricket’.  

Sydney-born Robson, who won the last of his 7 Test caps against India in August 2014, batted throughout the hottest day of the year to date to reap his 18 boundaries and ensure that the title-chasing visitors will have to play at their absolute best to force any sort of positive result over the remaining three days.  

Batting first after their side won the toss, home openers Nick Compton and Sam Robson posted 64 for the first wicket in the face of some reasonable new-ball bowling from Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks.

Robson posted the first boundary after 30 minutes when he rocked back and latched onto a short one from Brooks to find the ropes at extra cover, while at the Pavilion End Sidebottom, although frugal, was guilty of bowling too wide to be at his most effective.

Compton equalled his season’s best of 22 but then pushed with hard hands at one from Steven Patterson to feather a catch through to Andrew Hodd behind the stumps.

First change bowler Ben Coad enjoyed no luck from the Nursery End but Brooks might have struck with his first ball of a new spell when Robson, on 31, drove back firm and low only for the bowler to spill the tough chance. Brooks saw another chance go begging when Alex Lees, diving full-length to his right in the gully, downed a one-handed catch off Stevie Eskinazi, who had yet to get off the mark.

Brooks opted for a more direct route to wicket-taking four balls later to peg back Eskinazi’s off pole via the inside edge as the Middlesex right-hander offered a crab-like defensive prod.

Robson reached a deserved 81-ball 50 soon after lunch as he and Stirling went on to dominate the mid-session. In searing heat, Yorkshire introduced England wrist-spinner Adil Rashid and off-spinner Adam Lyth but all to no avail the third-wicket partners added an unbroken 153 through to tea.

Soon after the resumption, Robson – in only his fourth start of an injury ravaged season – late cut Rashid for three to reach his second century this summer from 184-balls and with 12 boundaries.

Then Stirling, who had given Robson a 36-run start, reached his maiden championship century from 119 balls. He hit 15 fours and a six into the Allen Stand to move past his previous best of 85, scored against Somerset here last summer. It was Stirling’s first hundred for two years, his four other first-class hundreds had all been for Ireland, and it came four years after his championship debut for Middlesex.   

Yorkshire’s wait for a breakthrough came to an end after 45 overs when Stirling departed lbw for 111 after aiming an ambitious pull to an Adil Rashid top-spinner. He and Robson had added 187 runs.  

Middlesex skipper James Franklin marched out to help Robson see off the second new ball and raise their side’s third batting bonus point but, with his score on 17 Franklin had his off stump pegged back by Ryan Sidebottom, just two deliveries after surviving the veteran left-armer’s prolonged lbw appeal. It proved Yorkshire’s final success of a long, hot day in the dirt.

Middlesex went into the game without Nick Gubbins and Tom Helm, on England A duty, while Yorkshire, also hampered by full England calls, gave a first-class debut to teenage batsman Harry Brook.

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DAY ONE - TEA UPDATE
MIDDLESEX 228/2
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Middlesex third-wicket batting partners Sam Robson and Paul Stirling dominated the mid-session to take their side into tea sitting pretty on 228 for two on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship encounter with Yorkshire.

In searing heat, Yorkshire introduced England wrist-spinner Adil Rashid and off-spinner Adam Lyth after the lunch interval but all to no avail as Stirling and Robson ploughed on to add an unbroken 153 through to tea as the visitors toiled for a couple of hours without a breakthrough.

Robson, in only his fourth start of an injury ruined season, went in for his sandwiches unbeaten on 97 having almost been caught by Stirling on 92 not out. Stirling reached his third 50 of the summer from 69 balls and with nine fours.

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DAY ONE - LUNCH UPDATE
MIDDLESEX 82/2
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Middlesex went into lunch on 82 for two after the opening session of their Specsavers County Championship clash with Yorkshire.

Batting first after winning the toss, home openers Nick Compton and Sam Robson posted 64 for the first wicket in the face of some reasonable new-ball bowling from Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks.

Robson posted the first boundary after 30 minutes when he rocked back and latched onto a short one from Brooks to find the ropes at extra cover.

Compton equalled his season’s best score of 22 but then push with hard hands at one from Steven Patterson only to feather a catch through to Andrew Hodd behind the stumps.

First change bowler Ben Coad enjoyed no luck then Brooks might have struck with his first ball of a new spell from the Nursery End. Robson, on 31, drove back firm and low but Brooks was unable to cling on to the tough chance.

Brooks then saw another chance go begging when Alex Lees, diving full-length to his right in the gully, downed a one-handed catch off Stevie Eskinzi, who had yet to get off the mark.

Brooks opted for a more direct route to wicket-taking four balls later to peg back Eskinazi’s off pole via the inside edge as the Middlesex right-hander offered an ugly, crab-like defensive prod.

Middlesex went into the game without Nick Gubbins and Tom Helm, on England A duty, while Yorkshire, also hampered by full England calls, gave a first-class debut to teenage batsman Harry Brook.