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Middlesex v Hampshire: Day 4 Match Report

Middlesex took just one session on day four to complete a comfortable nine-wicket LV= County Championship victory against Hampshire at Lord’s and strengthen their third-placed position in the Division One table.

Hampshire, resuming only 41 runs in front on 195 for seven in their second innings, were bowled out for 227 in 13 more overs, with Middlesex’s in-form seamer James Harris finishing with 4 for 80.

It then took Middlesex just 17.4 overs to knock off the 74 runs they needed for a 22-point win, their fourth in the championship this season. The lunch interval was delayed to enable Middlesex to score the 13 runs they still required, with the result confirmed at 1.15pm when Sam Robson hit Will Smith’s off spin through the covers for four.

Paul Stirling hit four boundaries before being bowled by Gareth Berg for 16, but Robson and Nick Compton then added an unbroken 39 to deny Hampshire’s bowlers any further successes. Robson ended on 36 not out, and Compton – whose first innings 87 was so valuable to his side – was unbeaten on 16.

Hampshire, for whom it was a fourth defeat, go bottom of the division and the threat of relegation is very much hanging over a team who have won just one of their nine matches to date.

Danny Briggs, one of Hampshire’s not out batsmen overnight, took early fours from both Harris and Tim Murtagh, who opened up with a second new ball still only four overs old.

Briggs, however, had added only 14 runs to his overnight score when he edged Toby Roland-Jones, who had replaced Harris at the Pavilion End, and was superbly held by a diving Ollie Rayner at the first of two gullies.

In the next over, the ninth of the morning, Murtagh had Berg leg-before for 25 and the last moment of Hampshire defiance came when Jackson Bird, the No 11, pulled Harris into the Grand Stand for six.

Harris had the last laugh, though, by trapping Brad Wheal lbw for 1 to take his match analysis to 8 for 128 and his season’s tally to 53 first-class wickets and, just after noon, Middlesex began their second innings in search of the modest victory target.

Middlesex captain James Franklin said: “We have had a few good performances this season, and that was obviously one of them. We had a pretty tough drawn game at Uxbridge in our last championship match, and so we had to win this game to stay up with the leaders of the division. Seeing Yorkshire beat Durham earlier in the day means we are right up there in the mix.

“The bowlers were excellent in this match, led by James Harris. I knew him as a teenager when I played at Glamorgan, and he has always has a lot of talent. It’s been well-documented that he’s had a tough couple of years, during which time his bowling technique was changed a little, but now he’s back doing what he did before and the results are there for all to see.

“I’ve no doubt that he can go on and play for England. He just needs to keep taking the numbers of wickets he has been taking this season – with another eight in this game – and then that sort of thing tends to look after itself.

“But Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh also played their part with the ball in this match, while Ollie Rayner had perhaps his best game for the club with both ball and bat. He bowled a lot of overs in their second innings, took some important wickets and helped us to back up our excellent first day bowling performance second time around.”

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