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MIDDLESEX V DERBYSHIRE | MATCH REPORT

Match report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.


DAY FOUR

Tom Helm’s late flurry of wickets was not enough to force a Middlesex victory as Derbyshire held on to draw their LV= Insurance County Championship opener.

Helm struck three times in 19 balls to give the Seaxes the upper hand after half-centuries by Shan Masood (62) and Wayne Madsen (54) had threatened to secure the visitors’ first Lord’s success in 20 years.

Pursuing a target of 356 from 88 overs, Derbyshire reached 197 for two just after tea – but Helm’s fiery spell forced them to abandon hopes of victory.

Middlesex’s bowlers – minus skipper Tim Murtagh, who pulled up injured early on in the chase – pressed hard, but were unable to make further inroads as Leus du Plooy and Anuj Dal dug in to steer their side to safety at 255 for five.

The home side extended their second innings by just six overs in the morning, with not-out batters Robbie White (81) and Max Holden (82) both falling to Sam Conners in pursuit of quick runs.

Another 57 were added, largely thanks to some clean striking by John Simpson (23 not out) and Toby Roland-Jones (17no) before Murtagh waved them in at 258 for five.

However, Murtagh himself was soon back in the pavilion after pulling up in the ninth over and Masood settled into the groove, dominating his partnership of 81 with Billy Godleman as Middlesex searched in vain for a breakthrough.

That finally arrived in the third over after lunch as Ethan Bamber – having already beaten the bat several times – persuaded Masood to flick on the leg side and Simpson took a diving catch.

Godleman briefly took up the baton with a couple of boundaries off Bamber, but the skipper (38) then attempted to cut the first ball of Roland-Jones’ second spell and was caught in the slips.

After a slow start, Madsen began to go for his shots, employing the reverse sweep to good effect against spinner Josh de Caires and reaching his half-century just after tea with a crisp straight drive for four off Roland-Jones.

But Helm raised Middlesex’s hopes with a trio of wickets, including those of Madsen who was leg before and Brooke Guest (43), smartly taken by Stephen Eskinazi at first slip after the pair had shared a stand of 91.

That left Derbyshire to survive 27 more overs and – although Dal got away with a loose shot that narrowly eluded Helm at deep square leg – handshakes were exchanged with five of those still unbowled.


DAY THREE

Tom Helm’s two wickets in successive balls sparked a Derbyshire collapse to bolster Middlesex’s hopes of a win on day three of their LV = Insurance County Championship clash with Derbyshire at Lord’s.

With the visitors 304-6 in mid-afternoon chasing Middlesex’s first innings tally of 401, Helm trapped Dal lbw for 52, ending a stand of 86 for the sixth wicket with Alex Thomson. Next ball Sam Conners was sent on his way for a golden duck after missing a Yorker and with fellow seamer Toby Roland-Jones taking two in three balls in the next over, including Thomson for 45, one shy of his career-best, Middlesex had taken 4-0 in nine balls.

Dal and Thomson kept up their impressive games with a wicket apiece after Middlesex went in a second time, but Max Holden struck a rapid 68 not out sharing an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 141 with Robbie White (79 not out), his second half century of the game to leave the hosts 298 to the good with a day to go.-

Helm, soon to turn 28, has been on England’s white-ball radar for a number of years, taking part in training nets as recently as last season. Former England seamer Geoff Arnold has watched the Buckinghamshire-born seamer a number of times and is known to be a fan, yet injuries and losses of form as well as competition for places has meant he is still shy of 100 first-class wickets.

Skipper Tim Murtagh had singled Helm out as the host’s best bowler 24 hours earlier and he was belatedly to reap the rewards his stints had deserved, making his double strike at a time when Dal and Thomson appeared untroubled on a slow low, benign pitch reminiscent of those in the late noughties early 2010s here at the home of cricket. His final return of 3-52 was the least he deserved for his 25 overs of hard yakka.

When Josh De Caires, having survived a huge lbw shout first ball was bowled by Conners four balls into Middlesex’s second innings, five wickets had tumbled without a run being scored.

Despite the early setback, Mark Stoneman and first-innings centurion Stephen Eskinazi signalled the intent for quick runs, running hard to turn two into an unlikely three, while the former hooked Lakmal into the grandstand for six.

Again, it was Dal and Thomson who briefly checked the host’s progress, Dal trapping Eskinazi lbw, while Thomson induced a rush of blood from Stoneman, whose ugly cross-batted swipe saw him caught by Conners.

Holden though came out bristling with intent. The former England Lion suggested at the back end of last season he was emerging from three lean years and there were plenty of signs of that resurgence here as he raced to 50 at almost a run a ball, hoisting Thomson into the grandstand in the process.

White, who’d been promoted ahead of Holden after his 65 in the first innings, began more circumspectly, but caught the mood, twice clearing the ropes himself in another polished effort, underlining his big leap forward over the last 18 months.

Image courtesy of David Griffin (Derbyshire CCC)


DAY TWO

Day two of the LV= Insurance County Championship match between Middlesex and Derbyshire confirmed there are in fact three certainties in life – death, taxes and Tim Murtagh taking wickets from the Nursery End at Lord’s.

At 3:36pm on an increasingly sunny spring afternoon the Seaxes’ acting skipper thudded a ball into Billy Godleman’s off-stump via an inside-edge to claim the 900th first-class wicket of his career some 7961 days after snaring his first in the year 2000 when current teammate Josh De Caires wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of his father and former England captain Michael Atherton.

Murtagh’s historic achievement though shouldn’t overshadow Shan Masood’s 91 for Derbyshire, comfortably the highest-ever score by a debutant for the county against Middlesex at Lord’s. His 220-minute vigil allowed the visitors to reply with 177-4 after bowling out the hosts for 401 on the stroke of lunch, Alex Thomson returning 4-103 his best figures in County Championship cricket.

Middlesex resumed on 307-4 with eyes on a fourth batting point ahead of the 110-over cut-off. What looked straightforward became a fraught chase as first Jack Davies lost his off-stump to Anuj Dal before Thomson struck twice in three balls in the 110th over to see off John Simpson and Toby Roland-Jones.

The precious point was only secured when Robbie White sent the final ball of the over to the mid-wicket fence. He perished soon afterwards for 65 and it needed a few meaty blows from Tom Helm in an unbeaten 30 to lift Middlesex beyond 400 in the first innings at Lords for the first time since September 2018.

Post-lunch all eyes were on Murtagh and that pending 900th victim. We though Masood was that man when a typical in-swinger rapped him on the pad, but the umpire remained unmoved to keep celebrations on ice.

Godleman, formerly of this parish, posted a landmark of 1000 runs at Lord’s when he reached eight, but the former teammate of Murtagh in the late noughties would later play the role of walk-on part in the veteran seamer’s historic moment.

Meanwhile, Masood forged on. The Pakistan Test opener was born in Kuwait, but raised in Lincolnshire and has graduated from both Durham and Loughborough Universities. Perhaps that explains why he felt so at home inside the Grace gates.

A sumptuous square drive took him passed 50 and at 58 he surpassed the previous highest score made by a Derbyshire debutant at Lord’s, Chesney Hughes’ 57 back in 2010.

He survived a testing spell from Tom Helm after tea and looked poised for a century when Murtagh, in search of a breakthrough, threw the ball to spinner De Caires, who lured him down the track with one he held back, and Simpson whipped off the bails to send him packing for 91. It marked the youngster's debut wicket in first-class cricket.

Wayne Madsen survived one huge shout for LBW only to be pinned in front by Ethan Bamber late on to leave the hosts in the ascendancy ahead of day three.


DAY ONE

Stephen Eskinazi’s stylish century propelled Middlesex into a strong position against a depleted Derbyshire attack on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Eskinazi struck an accomplished knock of 118 – his eighth Championship hundred and his first at Lord’s in five years – as he and teenage opener Josh de Caires shared a second-wicket stand of 186.

De Caires, the 19-year-old son of former England captain Michael Atherton, registered his maiden first-class half-century in an innings of 80 that helped to lay the foundations for the home side to post 307 for four.

It was a difficult day for Billy Godleman’s team, who opted to put Middlesex in but quickly lost the services of on-loan seamer Ryan Sidebottom, pulling up with a suspected hamstring problem just 1.1 overs into his Derbyshire debut.

Mark Stoneman got Middlesex’s campaign off to a positive start after Godleman had invited them to bat, clipping Sam Conners’ opening delivery firmly to the square-leg boundary.

However, the left-hander was first to depart, with Derbyshire’s two overseas players combining to remove him for 12 in the fourth over as Shan Masood dived forward at midwicket to hold a catch off Suranga Lakmal.

The Seaxes’ second-wicket pair dug in, with Eskinazi quick to punish loose bowling and displaying excellent timing and placement – exemplified by a sweet straight drive to the boundary off Anuj Dal to raise the 50 partnership.

There was a let-off for De Caires on 21, when he carved a widish delivery from Conners to point, but the ball whistled through Dal’s fingers and Derbyshire’s four remaining bowlers continued to toil after lunch.

Eskinazi brought up his half-century from 80 balls in the first over of the afternoon session, while his junior partner took a little longer to reach that landmark but did so in style, cutting Lakmal off the back foot for four.

De Caires’ watchful style took his stay at the crease beyond four hours before Conners tempted him outside off stump and Brooke Guest gratefully snapped up the opportunity to end the partnership prior to tea.

Lakmal claimed his second wicket when Eskinazi’s outside edge carried to Wayne Madsen at slip, but Robbie White and Max Holden maintained Middlesex’s momentum, joining forces in a stand of 58.

Holden (35) looked well set, only to perish reverse sweeping off-spinner Alex Thomson, but White (40 not out) and Jack Davies ensured a third batting point was safely secured before stumps.

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