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Nick Gubbins hit a brilliant 124 from 145 balls but he and Peter Handscomb were cruelly denied by the weather after looking as if they were going to sweep Middlesex to a dramatic last day victory against close rivals Surrey at the Kia Oval.
In the end Middlesex could only reach 250 for 6, a cruel 40 runs short of their win target when time ran out, with Kemar Roach finishing with 5 for 86 as four Middlesex wickets tumbled in a desperate late bid to score what became 74 from eight overs, rather than 13.That equation changed because of a rain delay of 20 minutes from 5.55pm.
Middlesex had been sitting pretty on 216 for 2, after being set 290 from an initial 71 overs when Surrey declared their second innings on 259 for 2 with Rory Burns scoring 104 not out and Ollie Pope a cameo unbeaten 37 from 20 balls.
Nine mid-afternoon overs had also already been lost to rain but, from 47 for 2, Gubbins and Handscomb had met the run-chase challenge in a cool and controlled partnership of 172 that featured some high-class batting from both players on a still excellent surface.
On the resumption, at 6.15pm, Handscomb was almost immediately caught on the cover ropes for 70 and although Gubbins swung Roach for a defiant six their hopes ended when the left-hander hit the West Indies paceman to deep extra cover.
Both counties took 11 points from the LV= Insurance County Championship draw, with Surrey remaining fourth in Group 2 and Middlesex staying bottom of the six-team conference table.
Gubbins batted beautifully and has now scored 455 runs this season, while Middlesex captain Handscomb put a wretched five weeks of poor form – 60 runs from eight innings – behind him in what was a triumph of character for the Australian.
Jack Davies, close to being lbw to a Roach near-yorker, was earlier well-caught in the gully by Pope off a leading edge for 2 as he tried to work Roach towards mid on and Sam Robson’s solid 32 ended when Reece Topley was recalled for the 17th over and his third ball, angled across the batsman, was nicked to second slip.
Surrey batted on for 100 minutes, adding 124 to their overnight 135 without loss and Burns completing his first hundred of the championship season, after six half-centuries in his previous nine innings. The England Test opener has now scored 554 runs at 61.66 this season and looks in good order ahead of the two-match series against New Zealand in early June.
Mark Stoneman fell to the day’s third ball, nicking Ethan Bamber behind without addition to his overnight 74. His opening stand of 135 with Burns was the equal highest identical opening partnership in first-class cricket, matching the two 135s put on by Sussex openers Kepler Wessels and John Barclay against Somerset at Hove in 1979.
Hashim Amla then reached a useful 43, once picking up Tim Murtagh’s medium pace for six over long leg, before skying the same bowler to deep mid wicket, while Pope took two sixes and a four from one Murtagh over.
Openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman built on an impressive performance by their bowlers as Surrey took control against Middlesex on day three of their LV=County Championship match at the Kia Oval.
After Kemar Roach and Jordan Clark each took four wickets to dismiss Middlesex for 160 and give Surrey a first innings lead of 30, Burns and Stoneman scored unbeaten fifties in their second century stand of the match as Surrey closed on 135 for 0.
In the best batting conditions so far, Stoneman drove impressively in his unbeaten 74, which included 13 fours, while Burns (61 not out, six fours) was fluent through the leg side as he passed 50 for the seventh time this season. It was the first time since 1991 that Surrey’s openers had scored half-centuries in both innings.
It was a tough day for Middlesex, whose top order was wrecked by a high-class spell from Roach, bowling from wide of the crease and consistently getting the ball to straighten on an off-stump line. In his last game before returning to West Indies to prepare for West Indies’ series against South Africa, he took three wickets in eight deliveries as Middlesex slumped to 27 for four.
The Barbadian took two wickets in four balls with Jack Davies (1) and Sam Robson (17) caught behind and then knocked back captain Peter Handscomb’s off stump for five to leave the Australian with just 60 runs in eight innings since taking over as captain.
Nick Gubbins (1) was turned around and lbw to Reece Topley to leave the innings in tatters but John Simpson, not for the first time in his career, organised lower-order resistance, sharing valuable stands of 33 with Robbie White, 38 with Martin Andersson and 42 with Blake Cullen in his 68.
Clark picked up White (9) with a shin-high full toss, Andersson (26) was well caught diving to his right by Rikki Clarke at second slip off Topley before Cullen (12) lost his off stump to Roach, who finished with four for 61.
Simpson hit ten fours in his first half-century of the season before Clark mopped up the tail. Simpson was well held in the gully by Ollie Pope and Tom Helm (4) drove to mid-off shortly after he was struck on the side of the helmet by Clark’s bouncer, which left him with a cut behind his ear. Clark finished with four for 41 when Tim Murtagh was foxed by his slower ball.
A beautiful delivery from Tom Helm to dismiss Hashim Amla was the highlight of a rained ruined day two between Surrey and Middlesex at the Kia Oval.
Helm, in only his second LV= Insurance County Championship game of the season for Middlesex, castled the former South African Test legend with one which came in on the angle before moving away and clipping the top of off-stump
However, just 77 minutes and 18 overs were possible before the heavens opened with Surrey 185-8 in their first innings.
An early lunch was taken, but more and more covers were dragged onto the square as the bad weather set in and play was abandoned shortly after 3:30pm.
Following their dramatic collapse on day one where six wickets fell for seven runs, Surrey resumed on 146 for six with Amla and all-rounder Rikki Clarke at the crease.
Whether it was the high winds – around 45mph – in south-east London or over excitement at his spell of three for none 24 hours earlier, Martin Andersson’s loose opening over saw Clarke make a rapid start. One over-pitched delivery was driven away through cover, while the next was too short and pulled to the square leg fence.
At the other end, Tim Murtagh was his usual miserly self, beating the edge a number of times in reeling off four maidens in five overs.
Middlesex’s fellow seamers caught the mood, meaning runs came slowly, but Amla and Clarke took their stand to 43 to mitigate some of the damage of 24 hours earlier.
Helm’s cracker broke the stand, sending Amla on his way for 24 and one wicket brought two when in the following over Blake Cullen caused Clarke on 19 to feather an edge through to wicketkeeper John Simpson.
It left Cullen with two for 29, while Helm’s figures read two for 43, but just 11 balls later the rains came.
Surrey lost six wickets for just seven runs to collapse to 146 for 6 against Middlesex after an opening stand of 135 between Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman had given the home side early control of the London derby at the Kia Oval.
But three wickets for 24-year-old all-rounder Martin Andersson – including the scalps of England pair Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes for ducks during a double-wicket maiden – spearheaded Middlesex’s fightback in a dramatic pre-tea session.
Burns made 64 and Stoneman 63 but when they fell in successive overs the Surrey innings became a sorry procession against some inspired bowling from a predominantly youthful Middlesex seam attack.
Blake Cullen, Ethan Bamber and Tom Helm all took a wicket apiece, while Andersson also sent back Jordan Clark for 1, leg-before to a ball angled into his pads to leave shell-shocked Surrey 142 for 6 in the penultimate over before the interval.
Rain then swept across south London, ruling out any more play on the opening day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match, with 40 overs lost.
Burns and Stoneman both enjoyed some moments of good fortune after Middlesex had opted to bowl, surviving a couple of loud lbw shouts in particular, but by lunch they had added 95 with some fluent strokeplay in front of 3,500 socially-distanced supporters in the Oval stands.
There was a half-hour delay to the afternoon session, because of light rain, and both openers completed their fifties with boundaries – Stoneman steering Helm to third man and Burns driving Bamber superbly back past the stumps.
Stoneman, on 62, was close to being lbw to Bamber but in the next over was given out caught behind by a diving John Simpson off Cullen even though replays suggested the ball had clipped the top of his front pad and not the inside edge.
Burns hit 11 fours in his sixth half-century in nine championship innings, taking his run-tally to 450 at an average of 50, but was beaten off the pitch by Bamber and adjudged leg-before while Andersson struck with his first ball back to have Pope lbw.
Four balls later Foakes edged to Simpson and, in the next over, Helm’s pace and bounce forced Jamie Smith to nick to Robbie White at first slip and depart for a third-ball duck.
Clark quickly followed, leaving Rikki Clarke to join Hashim Amla with a major repair job required. Amla is on 6, Clarke has 4 and Andersson’s figures are an eye-catching 4-1-17-3.