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over 5 years ago | Matches


Only three times in the club’s history have four batsmen hit centuries in one innings for Middlesex – the last time being in 2001 against Warwickshire at Lord’s. With the bears making their way down from the midlands to Lord’s this coming Sunday, what better match to look back on therefore, as we stroll down memory lane and relive this previous memorable clash between the two sides.

Prior to 2001, you’d have to go all the way back to the 1920’s to find the last time that four Middlesex batsmen brought up three figures in the same innings. The first time being in May 1920, when centuries from Pelham Warner (139), Harry Lee (119), Jack Hearne (116*) and Nigel Haig (131) helped Middlesex post a total of 543 for 4 against Sussex at Lord’s.

And then just three years later Lee and Hearne were again in a quartet of Middlesex batsmen who repeated the feat, when at the County Ground in Southampton against Hampshire in June 1923, Lee’s 107 and Hearne’s 232, were added to by Horace Dales’ 103 and Patsy Hendren’s unbeaten 177 as Middlesex hit an incredible 642 for 3.

After a break of almost eighty years, we return to Lord’s in the August of 2001.

Middlesex, skippered by none other than the club’s current Managing Director of Cricket, Angus Fraser, won the toss and elected to bat first.

Few would have predicted what lay ahead over the course of the next few days, when Warwickshire struck early as Vaspert Drakes sent Michael Brown back to the pavilion for duck with only one run on the board. When Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah followed Brown back to the home dressing room soon after, both dismissed cheaply by Charles Dagnall, Middlesex were struggling on 33 for 3, and any thoughts of batting records being achieved were seemingly misplaced.

Enter the club’s overseas batsman and New Zealand captain Steven Fleming with a youthful Ed Joyce alongside him, with initial thoughts set only on building a partnership to mount some sort of recovery from what could only be described as a disastrous start.

Joyce, playing in his first Championship match of the season, only called up to the side because Ben Hutton was ruled out with a finger injury, set about the challenge with Fleming with relish.

The pair mounted their recovery initially with caution, seeing it through to the lunch interval without any further scares, although a beautifully timed hook to the boundary from Joyce off Drakes, who was bowling sharply, showed the Warwickshire players that they were more than up for the fight.

Fleming was the first to reach his hundred, after continuously driving the Warwickshire quicks straight back past them to the fence in an innings of real quality, his hundred, his first at Lord’s for Middlesex, coming up off 175 balls with 15 fours.

A pull for four off Dagnall saw Joyce join Fleming on three figures, and become the first ever born and bred Irish batsman to hit a century in the County Championship. This was Joyce’s maiden first-class hundred, coming off 226 balls with 12 fours, surpassing his previous first-class best of 51.

Their brilliant 219 partnership was brought to an end when Dougie Brown found the edge of Fleming’s bat, sending a catch into the grateful gloves of Keith Piper behind. Fleming had made a magnificent 102 and he and Joyce had taken the score on to 252 for 4.

Joyce’s superb knock also ended soon after, for 104, as he was run out from a direct hit from short third man by Ian Bell, after the Irishman was turned back needlessly by Paul Weekes with the score on 268 for 5.

Weekes was joined by wicket-keeper David Nash at the crease, and the pair continued on the road to recovery, seeing things through safely to the close of the opening day, with Middlesex going in on 338 for 5 at stumps.

Day two saw Weekes and Nash continue in the same vain on a deck that looked way more batsmen friendly than Middlesex’s start of 33 for 3 had initially suggested.

The pair reached lunch unscathed, both having reached their half centuries, and it was Weekes who became the third batsman to reach three figures next, reaching the milestone with a cheeky reverse sweep, bringing his hundred up off 190 balls with 13 fours and one maximum.

When he fell to Alan Richardson for 107, with the score on 457, he and Nash had broken the record partnership for the sixth wicket against Warwickshire, their 189 surpassing the 184 set by Mark Ramprakash and Keith Brown in 1996.

Richardson struck again to dismiss Dalrymple cheaply, making his County Championship debut, although as tea approached Nash reached also his hundred, brought up off 188 balls with 9 boundaries, entering himself Fleming, Joyce and Weekes into the record books.

Tea signalled the moment for Fraser to declare, with Nash finishing unbeaten on 103 and Middlesex on 502 for 7.

The declaration brought relief for the Warwickshire side, who had toiled, largely unrewarded, for over 150 overs on a lifeless and unforgiving flat Lord’s deck.

Warwickshire’s start with the bat mirrored Middlesex’s in many respects, as two early wickets saw Fraser’s side quickly grasp the initiative.

Fraser himself got one to straighten to Warwickshire skipper Mike Powell, trapping him in front for 6, before Tim Bloomfield clean bowled Nick Knight for a duck, as the visitors fell to 6 for 2.

If Middlesex’s recovery earlier in the game was remarkable, albeit very much as a collective team effort, then Mark Wagh’s for Warwickshire was even more so, from a purely individual perspective!

Wagh, playing in his fiftieth County Championship game, came to the crease at number three, and batted for an incredible 630 minutes! He hit the fence on 36 occasions and cleared the rope once. He surpassed his previous best first-class score of 137 with ease, smashing an incredible 315 runs off 449 balls faced.

At the time, his knock saw him hit the second highest ever individual score against Middlesex in first-class cricket, only one run less than the highest ever, the unbeaten 316 by the legendary Jack Hobbs in 1926.

Wagh received support from a nineteen-year-old Ian Bell, who made 98 in only his ninth Championship appearance as the visitors went past Middlesex’s first innings total, finishing on 631 for 9 declared, with Wagh accounting for more than half of the Warwickshire runs on his own.

When Warwickshire eventually declared, just short of three and a half days play had been completed, so unsurprisingly the game inevitably petered out into what could have been considered a bore-draw, although with so many batting milestones reached and so many records broken, this one was most certainly anything but that!

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Related fixture

Sun 22 July
Specsavers County Championship Division Two
Start Time: 11:00
Duration: 4 days

Middlesex Middlesex
Warwickshire Warwickshire

Middlesex won by 18 runs