Match Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network
Day 4: Middlesex (324 & 196) beat Leicestershire (228 & 171) by 121 runs
Middlesex 22 points, Leicestershire 4 points
Acting Captain Tim Murtagh led the charge for wickets as Middlesex claimed just a second LV= Insurance County Championship win of the season against Leicestershire at Merchant Taylors’ School.
The old warhorse took four for 36 before limping away from the action just prior to the 121-run win being secured, Leicestershire coming up well short in their pursuit of 293 despite 52 from British-born Australian Josh Inglis.
James Harris weighed in with three for 50 in the success, this after Stephen Eskinazi made 66 in the hosts’ second innings of 196, Callum Parkinson taking 4-35.
Both sides will play in Division Three when the Championship resumes on August Bank Holiday Monday.
Middlesex’s second innings folded quickly on the final morning thanks to three wickets in as many overs for Parkinson.
Nathan Sowter spooned the third ball of the day into the hands of mid-on before the slow left-armer struck twice in three balls to remove Ethan Bamber and Murtagh.
Leicestershire’s chase got off to the worst possible start when Murtagh bowled Sam Evans for nought, but Marcus Harris, who’d made 185 against the hosts during a successful run chase in the reverse fixture in May, hit five boundaries to send the visitors into lunch 63-1.
Middlesex though wrestled back control after the resumption. Harris got one to lift from a length, take the shoulder of Lewis Hill’s bat and balloon to Josh De Caires at gully, while Sowter got the prize wicket of Harris for 46 with a peach of a leg-spinner which bowled him through the gate.
Skipper Colin Ackerman also didn’t last long, Murtagh finding the edge of the Foxes’ skipper’s bat to give Robbie White a simple catch.
Dangers still lurked in the shape of Inglis and in-form wicketkeeper/batsman Harry Swindells, but the latter drove loosely at Bamber and was snaffled by Joe Cracknell at first slip.
Inglis though, dropped by Sam Robson at slip on 33, fought hard to reach a first Championship 50 in 79 balls with his seventh four, but Murtagh returned to end his resistance with an out-swinger edged to a diving White, and Parkinson followed next ball bowled by an in-swinger which plucked out middle stump.
Barnes prevented the hat-trick and Murtagh limped off soon afterwards with what
appeared to be a calf problem, but Harris picked up the baton as
Middlesex mopped up the tail.
Day 3: Middlesex 176/7 & 324, Leicestershire 228
Stephen Eskinazi made an unexpected return from injury to score a vital half-century and strengthen Middlesex’s hopes of forcing a rare LV= Insurance County Championship victory against Leicestershire.
Eskinazi, who had seemed unlikely to play any further part at Merchant Taylors’ School after he pulled up in pain while batting on day one, emerged with a runner to salvage Middlesex’s second innings after they crashed to 17 for four.
The 27-year-old blunted the Leicestershire attack and top-scored with a gritty 53 not out as he and James Harris shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 77, lifting Middlesex to 176 for seven at stumps – a lead of 272.
That leaves the Foxes, who were earlier dismissed for 228, with the prospect of chasing an awkward target on the final day.
Resuming on 174 for five, Leicestershire chipped away at the deficit until the introduction of Daryl Mitchell paid immediate dividends, with both Ben Mike and Callum Parkinson caught behind.
Wicketkeeper Robbie White claimed his fourth catch of the innings when Ed Barnes, fuelled by the momentum of last week’s career-best 83 not out against Somerset, misjudged an ambitious pull shot against Harris.
Foxes captain Colin Ackermann, having spent almost five and a half hours over his watchful 82, eventually fell to an Ethan Bamber delivery that swung away to hit off stump.
The Middlesex seamer finished with three for 54 when the diving Joe Cracknell caught last man Will Davis low at first slip – but the home side’s lead of 96 was made to look flimsy as their top order crumbled second time around.
Davis added another three wickets to his five from the first innings, while Ackermann completed a trio of slip catches, the best of them at shoulder height to remove Josh de Caires.
However, Mitchell and White batted sensibly to repair the damage, adding 38 before the New Zealander was adjudged lbw to Mike despite the hint of an inside edge.
White, dropped early on by Davis at third slip, went on to make 34 and looked on course for a potential match-winning knock until he chipped Parkinson to backward square leg just before tea.
But Eskinazi, having taken almost half an hour to get off the mark, held firm and joined forces with Harris in a resolute stand that combined patience with good shot selection.
Barnes eventually pinned Harris lbw for 26 with an inswinging yorker, but Eskinazi carved the last ball of the day for four to bring up his half-century.
Day 2: Leicestershire 174/5, Middlesex 324
Leicestershire seamer Will Davis bowled his side back into contention on the second day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash against Middlesex with season’s-best figures of five for 66.
Davis, who had gone wicketless the previous day as Middlesex amassed 280 for three at Merchant Taylors’ School, sliced through the lower and middle order to prompt a collapse to 324 all out.
In response, home captain Tim Murtagh collected two early Leicestershire wickets before his opposite number Colin Ackermann righted the ship with a patient undefeated half-century.
Ackermann had reached 65 not out, with the visitors on 174 for five, when bad light forced the players from the field.
It was Abidine Sakande who triggered the procession of Middlesex wickets, bringing one back to hit Joe Cracknell’s front pad in the third over of the day before Davis took centre stage.
The Foxes paceman got the ball moving sufficiently to remove Robbie White and then Sam Robson, whose seven-hour innings of 154 came to an end as Josh Inglis took a diving catch behind the stumps.
Davis swiftly mopped up the Middlesex tail, dismissing James Harris and Nathan Sowter in successive overs and completing his five-for when Murtagh skied one into the hands of mid-off.
However, Murtagh struck back immediately at the start of the Leicestershire reply, with Sam Evans picking out Sowter at cover in the opening over before Lewis Hill was lbw to a delivery that kept low.
Marcus Harris – who shared a 243 partnership with Ackermann when the Foxes chased down 378 to beat Middlesex at home earlier in the season – looked in good nick again, producing a string of boundary drives in his brisk 31.
The Australian left-hander departed when namesake James Harris persuaded him to edge behind, but Ackermann, who took 23 balls before getting off the mark, proved harder for Middlesex to shift.
He built a fruitful stand of 97 with the more pugnacious Inglis, who looked set to overtake his skipper to a half-century, but was left one short as he lost his off stump to Ethan Bamber on the stroke of tea.
That was Bamber’s sole reward for two impressive spells, but Sowter held a sharp catch at midwicket to cut off Harry Swindells’ powerful drive and secure a third wicket for Murtagh before the rapidly darkening sky brought play to a close.
Day 1: Middlesex 280/3
Sam Robson’s first century since the season’s opening day gave Middlesex the early advantage in their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Leicestershire at Merchant Taylors’ School.
After acting captain Tim Murtagh won the toss, the former England opener struck 13 fours in his unbeaten 138, sharing half century stands with Josh De Caires, Stephen Eskinazi and Daryl Mitchell as the hosts reached 280-3 before bad light ended play three overs ahead of the scheduled close.
Ben Mike, Ed Barnes and Abidine Sakande took a wicket apiece for the visitors.
Robson was positive from the outset getting well forward in defence against the seamers. Boundaries though were few and far between, a straight drive off Sakande a rare exception.
At the other end De Caires, in only his second game for the hosts survived a bang on the helmet as he and Robson raised 50 for the first wicket, only the second time a Middlesex opening pair had managed the feat all season.
The stand reached 73 before De Caires chopped a short one from Ben Mike into his stumps, part of an eventful spell for the seamer which included an official warning for running on the pitch.
Robson’s 50 came soon afterwards from 72 balls with four fours and he and Eskinazi prospered either side of lunch despite some miserly bowling from Will Davies and Callum Parkinson.
The 50 partnership was raised before fate took a hand and Eskinazi pulled up after taking a sharp single and had to retire injured.
Max Holden, recalled to the first XI in the wake of skipper Peter Hanscomb’s positive Covid test, survived an early caught behind shout to hit some stylish boundaries. However, he failed to make the most of being dropped at second slip by Marcus Harris off Barnes, edging the same bowler through to wicketkeeper Josh Inglis shortly afterwards.
Robson though continued unperturbed, cutting Sakande to the point boundary to reach his century from 172 balls on the stroke of tea.
The centurion rode his luck a little in the final session, flashing a couple through the slips and surviving a confident appeal for lbw from Davies.
But New Zealand international Mitchell played with increasing assurance for his 38 and it was a shock when he drove Sakande to Harry Swindells with the pair just shy of a century stand.