MATCH RESULT - DRAWN
Middlesex 1st inns - 297 all out
Middlesex 2nd inns - 253/9
Essex 1st inns - 444 all out
Play resumed on the third and final day of Middlesex’s Second Eleven Championship clash with Essex at Uxbridge with the visitors looking to build on their overnight score of 402 for 8 and add to their first innings lead of 105 runs.
Only two runs had been added however when James Harris struck for the hosts, clean bowling Dixon for 9 with the score on 404 for 9.
Number eleven Snater joined Benjamin at the crease, who, resuming on his overnight score of 42, soon brought up a well-earned half-century.
He and Snater added a crucial 40 runs for the tenth wicket before Benjamin became Barber’s third wicket of the innings, falling for 63 with Robbie White taking the catch.
Essex’s first innings closed on 444 all out, with a heathy lead of 147 runs on the board!
Max Holden and Tom Lace opened the Middlesex second innings with just under an hour’s play in front of them until the lunch interval was due. The pair had added 40 for the first wicket before Lace fell for 15 just prior to the break – caught by Pepper off the bowling of Walter.
Robbie White joined Holden in the middle and the duo saw it through to the interval, going in on 48 for 1 trailing Essex by 99 runs.
Soon after the resumption Holden became the second Middlesex wicket to fall, for 27, caught by Beard off Nijjar, with the hosts’ score on 49 for 2, bringing George Scott to the crease.
Nijjar struck again, bowling Scott for just 9, with the score on 86, three down, still trailing by 61.
Three became four soon after as Andersson was bowled by Dixon for 8 with the score on 105, with Middlesex still trailing by 42 as Harris joined White in the middle.
Despite wickets falling around him Robbie White was batting with confidence, and reached an important half-century as Middlesex continued to erode the deficit, although just one run after reaching the milestone Nijjar struck again with the score on 138 for 5, finding the edge of White’s bat for keeper Pepper to snare the chance. Middlesex still trailed at this point by 9 runs, five wickets down.
No further losses saw Middlesex go in for tea on 144 for 5, trailing Essex by just 3 runs with Harris and Fuller in the middle.
Parity was eventually restored and the batsmen began to turn their attention to building a substantial lead that would cement the draw.
Fuller was going well, scoring at more than a run a ball, although he became the next wicket to fall, bowled by Nijjar for 27 with the score on 174 for 6.
Beard then picked up a Cracknell cheaply for 8, and he was followed by Rayner, who became Nijjar’s fifth wicket, bowled for 9 - 226 for 8, with a slender lead of 79.
Harris moved past his fifty and was looking as cool as a cucumber as wickets tumbled around him, and he and Patel added another 27 runs for the ninth wicket, building the total to 253 for 9 and the lead to 106.
With time running out, Murtagh and Harris saw things out until the captains decided that shaking hands on the draw was the most sensible outcome to a hard fought three days in the dirt.
CLOSE OF PLAY - DAY TWO
Middlesex 1st inns - 297 all out
Essex 1st inns - 402/8
Play resumed on day two at Uxbridge at the earlier time of 10.30am today, to give the players and spectators an earlier finish to enjoy the World Cup semi-final this evening. Essex resumed on their overnight score of 92 for 1, trailing Middlesex by 205 runs.
Last night’s promising start to the Essex reply showed little sign of abating this morning, as Browne and Pepper successfully negotiated the first hour of the day without any further loss, in which Pepper brought up a well-earned half century.
Ravi Patel struck soon into the second hour however with the score on 135, taking a return catch from Nick Browne to dismiss the Essex opener for 39.
New batsman Buttleman joined Pepper and the pair had put on 33 before the pace of Barber did for Buttleman, with Ollie Rayner taking the catch, as Essex lost their third wicket with the score on 168 – all the while Pepper was looking composed and he had moved into the seventies when Buttleman departed.
Pepper continued to build towards what would have been a brilliant hundred, although just seven short of reaching the milestone he fell to Ollie Rayner, with Robbie White taking the catch to end the Essex youngster’s vigil at the crease on 93, with Essex on 199 for 4.
Lunch was taken with Ryan Patel and Aron Nijjar at the crease, with the visitors on 208 for 4, trailing by just 89 runs.
The pair built on their partnership after the interval and were still at the crease and going well when tea was taken, having progressed the score on to 292 for 4 albeit at a sedate pace.
Patel had been the more aggressive of the two in the wicketless afternoon session, reaching 65 off 146 balls at the break, whilst Nijjar, though unmoveable, was labouring with a strike rate of less than 23 - reaching 28 off 122 balls at tea.
The start of evening session saw Middlesex’s fortunes immediately change as James Harris picked up the fifth Essex wicket with only another 8 runs added, as Nijjar was trapped in front for 28.
Ryan Patel marched on however and reached a deserved century, before falling to his namesake Ravi Patel for 117 with the Essex score on 381 for 6.
Two more quick wickets, one a George Scott run out and the other a second scalp for Ollie Rayner saw Beard and Ryness heading back to the Pavilion cheaply as Essex fell to 388 for 8.
Benjamin (42*) and Dixon (9*) saw things through to the early close, with the visitors on 402 for 8, leading Middlesex by 105 runs.
Play resumes tomorrow morning at the normal start time of 11am on day three.
CLOSE OF PLAY - DAY ONE
Middlesex - 297 all out
Essex - 92/1
Despite two centurions for the hosts, Essex finish day one in the ascendancy at Uxbridge Sports Club.
Middlesex won the toss and decided to bat first, but got off to a nightmare start when Tom Lace was dismissed with the score still on 0. Holden and White moved the Middlesex innings forward at a rapid rate, and by the time Max Holden departed in the 12th over, the score was already at 58-2.
From this point on, George Scott and Robbie White took charge of proceedings in style. The pair batted superbly, and pushed Middlesex past 200 without any further loss.
George Scott was the first of the two to reach a century, coming at a rate of almost a run a ball. He eventually went for 105, with the score at 233-3.
However, three quick wickets from Nijjar wrestled control back for Essex, and once Fuller was dismissed by Snater Middlesex looked in trouble on 256-6.
Robbie White remained at the crease long enough to surpass his century however, although wickets continued to come thick and fast for the visitors.
White was trapped LBW by Nijjar for 116, and the hosts were only able to find a further 12 runs once he had left the crease.
Middlesex finished on 297 all out, with Nijjar having taken a superb 5-83 for Essex.
Essex batted assuredly for the remainder of the day, with Tom Barber being the only Middlesex bowler to find any success before day one was over. The visitors closed on 92-1, trailing the hosts by 205 runs.Play will commence on day two with a slightly earlier start time of 10.30am.