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over 6 years ago | Matches

Ahead of Middlesex’s opening County Championship clash of the 2018 season tomorrow at Lord’s, we take a trip down memory lane and look at a game played over twenty years ago, when Middlesex hit their highest ever total at Lord’s against this week’s visitors Northamptonshire.

It was in May 1997 at the Home of Cricket, when a Middlesex side, led by a 27-year-old Mark Ramprakash, overcame Northants by an innings, hitting their record total against the Wantage Road based outfit - 531 all out.

Within that side of over two decades ago were Middlesex’s current Managing Director of Cricket, Angus Fraser, aged 31 at the time, and the club’s current Assistant Head Coach, Richard Johnson, at a spritely 22 years of age.

Winning the toss Ramprakash elected to bat first, and overseas South African Jacques Kallis and Paul Weekes strode to the crease with purpose to open the innings for the Seaxes.

A century opening partnership followed before Kevin Curran eventually got the breakthrough to dislodge Weekes for 41 with the score on 107.

Ramprakash himself then joined Kallis at the crease, and the pair proceeded to pile on the runs, both reaching hundreds before the day was out. This was the first of four hundreds Kallis hit for Middlesex in his one season with the club, which yielded him over one thousand Championship runs at an average of 47.

The dismissal of Kallis in the afternoon session for a quick-fire 121 off 162 balls only compelled the misery for the Northants bowlers as this brought the inimitable Mike Gatting to the crease, who, in his pomp at the time, joined Kallis and Ramprakash is completing his hundred before stumps were drawn at Lord’s.

At the end of a one-sided first day of the encounter, Middlesex had enjoyed by far the best of proceedings, going in on 400 for 2 when the close came.

Day two saw the Northants attack fight back with some purpose, and after Ramprakash departed early in the day for 111 with the score on 412, only Keith Brown, Fraser and Johnson were able to make double figure scores for the hosts, as they were eventually dismissed for their record total of 531.

It was then over to the bowlers, with Ramprakash turning to the pace of Fraser and Hewitt to lead the charge with the new ball.

With only six runs on the board Hewitt removed opener Montgomerie for a duck, before Northants rallied, with Bailey and Roberts looking to bat time and occupy the crease. It took the introduction of Phillip Tufnell into the attack to regain the initiative for Middlesex, as with the score on 63 the mercurial left-arm spinner dislodged Bailey and then Roberts in quick time to reduce the visitors to 72 for 3.

Back into the attack towards the end of the second day it was Hewitt who struck again, seeing off Penberthy for 29, as Northants reached 165 for 4 at stumps.

The following morning went Middlesex’s way, as the hosts pressed home their advantage, with Hewitt striking early to dismiss Taylor. As the morning wore on he continued to wreak havoc, picking up another two wickets to secure his first five wicket haul of the season, finishing with impressive figures of 5 for 59, before Johnson then clinically cleaned up the tail to finish with 3 for 73 himself as Northamptonshire were bowled out for just 216.

Trailing by 315 runs it came as little surprise that Ramprakash pushed home his advantage, asking the visitors to follow on.

Northants fared little better in the second innings, with Tufnell proving to be the chief protagonist, picking up 4 for 64 as the visitors struggled to come to terms with the wily tweaker.

Two wickets apiece for Johnson and Kallis, and one apiece for Fraser and Hewitt completed the rout as Northants were dismissed for just 258, securing the win for Middlesex by the huge margin of an innings and 57 runs mid-way through the final day’s play.

Middlesex went on to secure a fourth-place finish in the Britannic Assurance County Championship in 1997, with Ramprakash leading the batting averages, hitting over 1,200 runs at 54 and Hewitt finishing the year as the pick of the bowlers, collecting 57 wickets at just 23.

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Related fixture

Fri 13 April
Specsavers County Championship Division Two
Start Time: 11:00
Duration: 4 days

Middlesex Middlesex
Northamptonshire Northamptonshire

Middlesex won by 160 runs