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MATCH REPORT | MIDDLESEX v SOMERSET

Match Reports are supplied by the ECB Reporters Network


DAY FOUR

Lewis Gregory’s swift unbeaten half-century landed the decisive blow as Somerset sealed a four-wicket victory over Middlesex in their LV= County Championship opener at Lord’s.

Gregory pummelled the home bowlers just after lunch, hitting 62 not out from 72 balls to tilt a see-saw encounter back in Somerset’s favour after Ethan Bamber’s double strike had raised Middlesex hopes.

But an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 98 between the England international all-rounder and George Bartlett, who finished on 76 not out, saw the visitors home without further alarm.

The win enabled Somerset, runners-up in three of the last four County Championship campaigns, to immediately wipe out the eight-point penalty imposed for breaches of pitch regulations and carried over from 2019.

Resuming on 112 for three, Somerset adopted a patient approach during the first hour and offered no chances as Bartlett settled into the groove alongside captain Tom Abell, who led the way with a measured knock of 84.

Bartlett batted confidently, capitalising on the absence of third man to keep the scoreboard ticking over, although there was a close call when his thick edge flew just wide of the diving Max Holden at gully.

But Bamber’s switch to the Nursery End paid dividends as he ended Abell’s three-hour vigil with a thin edge behind, and then dismissed Steven Davies for a duck, moving the ball back down the slope to trap the left-hander leg before.

Craig Overton got off the mark by cracking Bamber through the covers for four, but Tim Murtagh’s outswinger removed him on the stroke of lunch, with Somerset still 98 short of their target.

However, Gregory immediately regained the initiative for the visitors after the interval, rapidly eating into the deficit as he dispatched Murtagh to the boundary three times in quick succession.

Bartlett brought up his half-century – passing 50 at first-class level for the eighth time – by driving Tom Helm off the back foot for four and Gregory soon followed suit from only 55 deliveries.

Middlesex kept rotating their seamers in a bid to stem the flow of runs, but the damage had already been done and Gregory applied the finishing touch, carving Bamber for four to level the scores before adding a single off the next ball.


DAY THREE

Somerset skipper Tom Abell’s unbeaten half-century maintained his side’s hopes of victory after Middlesex set a target of 285 in their LV= County Championship opener at Lord’s.

Abell’s bowlers fought their way back into the game, with Josh Davey, Jack Leach and Craig Overton taking three wickets apiece to dismiss Middlesex for 143 in their second innings, despite Stephen Eskinazi’s knock of 53.

Although Toby Roland-Jones picked up two wickets, the home side were unable to dislodge Abell, who remained 62 not out as Somerset advanced to 112 for three – requiring another 173 – before the weather intervened.

Somerset’s slip catching – which had let them down on the first day – was faultless second time around, with Nick Gubbins failing to add to his overnight 37 as he slashed outside off stump and Lewis Gregory held the chance above his head.

Gregory also snapped up Robbie White off Leach for the second time in the match before Eskinazi brought up his half-century – his first in red-ball cricket for two years – by drilling Davey to the cover boundary.

In his next over, though, Davey found the Middlesex skipper’s outside edge and Overton pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch, low to his right at second slip.

Tight bowling by Leach and Davey, who returned three for 16, had already prevented Middlesex from accelerating and Eskinazi’s departure initiated an alarming collapse, with the last six wickets tumbling for the addition of just 16.

Davey trapped John Simpson and Roland-Jones lbw in the space of four deliveries and Leach wrapped up the innings just before lunch, dismissing Martin Andersson and Ethan Bamber in the same fashion to finish with three for 18.

Somerset’s chase began badly, with Tom Lammonby edging his first ball from Bamber into the hands of first slip – and Tom Banton might have followed, also without scoring, off Tim Murtagh.

But Sam Robson could not hang onto the chance and Banton settled down to share a steady partnership of 79 with Abell, finding some rhythm as he struck Roland-Jones for successive boundaries to reach 37.

However, the seamer soon checked Somerset’s progress, pinning both Banton and James Hildreth in front of leg stump and the contest was delicately poised when deteriorating light, followed by rain, prompted the umpires to halt play.


DAY TWO

Veteran paceman Tim Murtagh claimed four wickets as Middlesex got the upper hand on day two of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Somerset at Lord’s.

In continuing uncertain times, 39-year-old Murtagh proved his reassuringly reliable self, returning figures of four for 46 and with his heir apparent at Middlesex Ethan Bamber contributing 3-24, the visitors were bowled out for 172, giving the hosts a lead of 141 after they earlier posted 313, Lewis Gregory taking five for 68.

That advantage would have been greater but for a 10th wicket stand of 83 between Marchant De Lange, who made 51, and England spinner Jack Leach which saved the follow on.

Middlesex then reached 87 for 2 by stumps, a lead of 228.

Last season’s Bob Willis Trophy finalists were soon in trouble in the face of some bewitching new-ball bowling from Murtagh and Bamber.

Murtagh made the first incision having Tom Lammonby caught behind off an inside edge and the old warhorse struck again when Tom Abell steered a ball speared into him into the hands of Sam Robson at slip.

Bamber then took over castling Tom Banton with a beauty and when George Bartlett poked another probing ball to a diving Simpson the visitors were 17 for 4.

James Hildreth looked calm amid the carnage, only for Bamber to trap him in front with the first ball after lunch and with Toby Roland-Jones accounting for Steve Davies and Craig Overton Somerset slumped to 81-9 before the last pair came together.

De Lange though found a staunch ally in Leach and the pair struck the ball confidently from the outset.

Leach was dropped by Robson at slip on 18, allowing De Lange to launch an onslaught, culminating in a huge six over long-on that saved the follow-on.

Martin Andersson finally ended the revelry, by bowling De Lange, but not before he’d reached 50 from 49 balls.

Max Holden and first innings centurion Robson fell cheaply, but Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi added 75 for the third wicket before bad light ended play 10 overs early.

The action took place amid the sombre news of the death this morning of The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, a former MCC President. Flags were flown at half-mast and two minutes silence was observed before the start of the afternoon session.


DAY ONE

Sam Robson survived two early chances to post his highest red-ball score in five years as Middlesex made a solid start to their LV= County Championship opener against Somerset at Lord’s.

James Hildreth and Craig Overton both spilled slip catches before the opener had passed his half-century and he took advantage to accumulate 165, with Middlesex reaching 293 for eight at stumps.

Robson’s majestic knock, which included 25 fours, was his best performance since registering a career-best double hundred in the opening match of the 2016 season against Warwickshire.

The 31-year-old eventually fell to Lewis Gregory, who ended the day with figures of four for 54 after Somerset fought back in the evening session.

Somerset, runners-up in both of the last two Championship campaigns, put their hosts in after winning the toss and quickly removed Max Holden, who clipped Overton into the hands of square leg in the third over.

Nick Gubbins appeared well set, hitting four boundaries to reach 21, but his was the second wicket to fall during the morning session as former Middlesex medium-pacer Josh Davey pinned him leg before.

Davey should also have claimed the scalp of Robson on 23, with Hildreth failing to gather the edge before Overton, at second slip, put the right-hander down off Gregory with 47 to his name.

Stephen Eskinazi kept Robson company with a watchful innings of 22 and the pair had added 80 for the third wicket when Gregory got Middlesex’s stand-in captain lbw with one that stayed low.

However, Robson – who looked particularly strong on the leg side throughout – advanced to reach his century from 139 deliveries, stroking Gregory through midwicket for three.

Somerset eventually turned to spin in search of a wicket and Jack Leach came up trumps as Robbie White miscalculated the left-armer’s line, prodding forward and nudging him to second slip for 17.

Davey’s nagging line earned him his second success shortly after tea when he had Martin Andersson caught behind off a thin edge.

Gregory then struck twice in successive overs with the new ball, dismissing John Simpson before Robson attempted to cut and was caught by Tom Abell at third slip.

The all-rounder collected his fourth wicket when Hildreth dived to take an edge off Tom Helm, but Toby Roland-Jones’ unbeaten 19 kept Middlesex within sight of a third batting bonus point.


Match Reports are supplied by the ECB Reporters Network

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