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7 months ago | Uncategorised


Match report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.


Middlesex’s latest stay in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship is over, although they at least went down with a fight on a dramatic final day at Trent Bridge.

In a match they ultimately had to win following Kent’s draw against Lancashire to avoid joining Northamptonshire in Division Two next season, there had looked to be only one outcome as skipper Toby Roland-Jones set Nottingham a target of just 207 in a generous 58 overs.

But on a dry, turning pitch on a beautifully sunny last afternoon, spinners Jayant Yadav, Josh De Caires and Sam Robson - who finished with a career-best four for 46 with his leg spin - gave the home side a real scare before Matt Montgomery (34 not out) held the tail together to drag Nottinghamshire across the line at eight down, with 16 balls to spare.

Fittingly, it was No 10 Jake Ball - in his final appearance for Nottinghamshire - who swept Robson for the winning boundary.

Earlier, as Nottinghamshire set fields that allowed Middlesex to set the game up, Robson hit an 109-ball unbeaten 105 that contained only three fours, and De Caires 49 from 47 as the two shared an 83-run sixth-wicket partnership before the declaration came, with Roland-Jones needing to take a gamble if his bowlers were to have any chance of taking 10 wickets on a pitch that, while taking spin, was still essentially a good surface for batting.

Hutton’s two for 38 had confirmed him as the season’s leading wicket-taker across both divisions on 62 and as Ben Slater added a 49 to his first-innings 140 Nottinghamshire looked to be cruising on 133 for two.

There had been only sporadic glimmers of hope for Middlesex. Haseeb Hameed, without a hundred this year after four in 2022, pulled Tom Helm straight to square leg in the 16th over. Ten overs later, John Simpson executed a sharp stumping to enable De Caires to end Steven Mullaney’s progress at 30 from 34 balls.

But then wickets came in consecutive overs twice as the turning ball suddenly became a potent weapon.

Joe Clarke was bowled by off-spinner Yadav for 22 in the 31st, before Slater was leg before to Robson in the 32nd.

Tom Moores was caught at deep midwicket on the slog-sweep off Robson in the 36th and Lyndon James leg before on the back foot to Yadav in the 37th, leaving Nottinghamshire 152 for six, still 55 short of the target.

And the odds looked to be tipping firmly in Middlesex’s favour as Robson bowled Calvin Harrison in the 40th, giving Robson career-best figures with the ball as a bonus.

But Montgomery played the spinners well and Hutton brought a calm authority to proceedings, the pair adding 45 for the seventh wicket.

There was still for one more scare as Hutton, with just five needed, swiped at Robson to be caught behind.

But Ball kept his nerve to get the job done, punching the air as his sweep off Robson beat the infield, achieving for a fourth win of the season and a sixth-place finish for Nottinghamshire, who were promoted with Middlesex as Division Two champions last year.

At the start of the day, with just one slip in place as Ball bowled the opening delivery with a ball just three overs old, it was clear that Nottinghamshire were happy to let Middlesex progress at their own pace towards the declaration they had in mind. Quite soon there were no slips and ultimately nine Nottinghamshire players stationed by the boundary rope.

The wonder was that Middlesex managed to lose five wickets in taking their total to 177 in the 29 overs up to lunch, although Stevie Eskinazi’s freakish demise capped an unfortunate match for the South African-born player.

His firm drive towards mid-on hit Robson on the foot at the non-striker’s end and rolled gently towards Mullaney, the bowler, who picked up the ball and lobbed it to wicketkeeper Tom Moores with Eskinazi, who had copped one on the helmet on day one, hopelessly stranded.

Either side of this moment of comedy - dark comedy from a Middlesex point of view - Mark Stoneman picked out Lyndon James at deep mid-wicket and Max Holden fell to an excellent catch by Ball at third man as Hutton extended his wickets tally for the season to 62, before Dane Paterson raised his total to 50 - for the third consecutive season - by having Ryan Higgins caught behind off a thin edge and Mullaney removed Simpson via a much thicker edge, a steepler that Moores had to run to backward point to take.

A 47-ball 49 by De Caires either side of lunch helped things along, the young off-spinner lofting Ball into the Fox Road stand beyond square leg before he was caught at deep extra flinging the bat.

It gave Ball his final wicket as a Nottinghamshire player - and the first from the Stuart Broad End, as the pavilion end here will henceforth be known following a lunchtime announcement in the presence of the retired England pace bowler.

Moments later, Robson completed his third hundred of the season, Middlesex declared, mindful mostly of how many overs their bowlers might need to have any chance of taking 10 wickets, and Ball led his team-mates off the field for the last time. Another county will surely find room for him next season.


Relegation will surely feel likelier than survival for Middlesex as they contemplate the final day of the LV=Insurance County Championship season, having failed to take the upper hand against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Anchored by opener Ben Slater’s authoritative 140, a vigil spanning more than seven hours, Nottinghamshire posted 384 in their first innings in reply to Middlesex’s 366, Joe Clarke (70) and Matt Montgomery (52) playing the biggest supporting roles, supplemented by useful late runs from Calvin Harrison and Brett Hutton.

Off-spinner Josh De Caires finished with three for 56 as Middlesex took maximum bowling points to go with their three for batting.

Yet after picking up seven in total against Lancashire and a first-innings lead of 167 in Canterbury, Kent have the upper hand in the scrap to dodge the final Division One relegation spot, knowing that they need only to avoid defeat to finish ahead of Middlesex.

Bad light cost another 19 overs from the match schedule, leaving Middlesex - 10 behind with all wickets in hand - to contemplate offering Nottinghamshire a particularly generous target if they are to have any chance of taking 10 wickets in the last innings to win the match.

Their ambitions would have been better served had they managed to conjure a more productive morning with the ball after Nottinghamshire resumed on 92 for two.

In the event, the home side had advanced to 201 for three in 31 overs by lunch, the session as a whole suggesting that even were Middlesex to reach a position to dangle a carrot, they would have only an outside chance of success.

Ethan Bamber and Toby Helm found it difficult to make much happen on a slow pitch and Slater and Clarke feasted readily on any width, the former going to fifty from 93 balls with the first scoring shot of the morning, cut to the offside boundary for his ninth four.

Clarke completed his half-century from 114 balls with seven fours, having completed his 1,000 first-class runs for the season when he reached 39, his first time to that milestone since 2016, when he announced himself as a batter of outstanding potential by scoring six centuries for Worcestershire.

He was not able to add to his 20 hundreds in total, out for 70 when he was beaten by a ball from Jayant Yadav, the Indian off-spinner, that did not bounce as he expected, beating his attempt to whip it through mid-wicket and striking him a couple of inches below the knee roll on the back pad.

The partnership with Slater, whom he’d joined at 35 for two, added 134, after which Slater was outpaced by Montgomery, who had been scratching for runs in 10 innings since posting a career-best 177 against Essex in May but found a measure of that form in reaching 50 from 48 balls, as the fourth wicket put on 70.

Montgomery was dismissed by De Caires, who had his first bowl of the day immediately after lunch and struck in his fifth over, beating Montgomery on the outside as the right-hander strode down the wicket, handing John Simpson a routine stumping.

Now Middlesex did begin to find the inroads that had proved elusive, Tom Helm finding a thin edge as Tom Moores drove expansively in the next over.

Slater went to his hundred, his second of the campaign, from 208 balls, but when Lyndon James chopped on to Yadav, Nottinghamshire were in a spot of bother at 274 for six, still 92 in arrears.

Harrison, the leg-spinning all-rounder, frustrated Middlesex by sticking around for 25 overs, yet he departed in the last over before tea, caught behind tickling one down the leg-side from Toby Roland-Jones. The visitors smelt an opportunity with the deficit still 47.

With Hutton for company, Slater wiped that out in the next 10 overs before the pull shot that had accounted for a good proportion of his 20 boundaries finally let him down and he was caught on the midwicket boundary.

Hutton holed out off De Caires, Roland-Jones taking a well-judged catch at mid-off, before Jake Ball departed thanks to an even-better snare at deep point, but instead of the first-innings lead they had craved, Middlesex found themselves 18 runs behind.


In a match they may need to win to avoid an instant return to Division Two in the LV= Insurance County Championship, Middlesex have at least given themselves a chance after all-rounder Ryan Higgins became only their second player to make a century this season.

Higgins held Middlesex’s first innings together with 137 - his first hundred for the county - sharing partnerships of 61 with Stevie Eskinazi (58) and 108 with Jayant Yadav (56). Their total of 366 gave them three potentially precious batting bonus points, more than doubling their tally for the season, before Nottinghamshire responded with 92 for two, of which Ben Slater has 49 not out.

But Kent, who began the final round of matches one point in front of Middlesex in the battle to avoid the one relegation place still undecided, are all but certain to at least match those three batting points against Lancashire in Canterbury, having already secured three for bowling.

That means that unless Kent lose to Lancashire, Middlesex will have to beat Nottinghamshire - the team promoted with them last season - to ensure it is they rather than Kent who stay up.

Brett Hutton finished with five for 94, taking him to 60 wickets for the season, picking up a wicket with his fourth ball of the day to break the overnight partnership between Higgins and John Simpson, the latter falling leg before getting only half-forward.

The dismissal brought immediate confirmation that Eskinazi was none the worse for the blow to the head that had forced his retirement on day one.

Eskinazi emerged to resume an innings interrupted on 23, looking purposeful with an early boundary pushed through the covers after Simpson and Higgins had added 70, with another 61 runs accrued before Dane Paterson pinned Eskinazi in front for 58, a first half-century of the season by a batter whose form has been part of a collective malaise afflicting Middlesex.

The best ball of a testing second spell by Hutton accounted for Josh De Caires via a thin edge to ‘keeper Tom Moores, leaving Middlesex in danger at 241 for six. Thankfully for their survival chance, Higgins found an ally who could stick with him in Yadav, who had been out in single figures in the first four innings of his short-term deal but this time played beautifully for his 56 as the pair put on a vital 108.

The Indian off-spinner timed his drives and cuts perfectly, throwing in a couple of meaty pulls among his eight boundaries, lightening the burden of responsibility on Higgins just enough to allow the former Gloucestershire right-hander to stay faithful to the tempo that had served him well to that point.

It took him to 99 at lunch, from which he returned keen not to linger long on that nervous mark, looking unsuccessfully for a single off each of the first five balls of Dane Paterson’s first over of the afternoon before beating the infield with a push that carried all the way to the boundary at wide mid-on, joining Sam Robson as the only two Middlesex batters to post hundreds in 2023.

The sixth over with the second new ball ended the partnership when Yadav played around one from Ball to be leg before. The downfall of Higgins came two overs later with a misjudgement, an attempt to scamper a single into the offside off Ball, who stopped the ball with his boot, causing Higgins to hesitate mid-pitch and not quite recommit to the run. It was long enough for Ball to stoop, gather and throw down the stumps at the bowler’s end with the batter still not home.

In between, Toby Roland-Jones had been struck in front trying to work Hutton, who wrapped things up by having Bamber caught at second slip, thus completing his sixth five-wicket haul in an outstanding season.

With ball in hand, Bamber dismissed Haseeb Hameed via a thin edge to Simpson and Steven Mullaney courtesy of a tight leg before call inside his first five overs, but Slater and Joe Clarke have added 57 for the third wicket, despite Slater suffering what looked like a painful blow on the hip.

Bad light and rain cost another 25 overs, following 54 on day one.


Relegation-threatened Middlesex closed a truncated opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Nottinghamshire on 162 for three as they began the last round of the 2023 season with one eye on Kent’s progress against Lancashire in Canterbury.

Middlesex have to better Kent’s result or match it with at least one more bonus point than their rivals if they are to avoid joining Northamptonshire in Division Two next season.

Given that they have won only two batting bonus points all season, skipper Toby Roland-Jones might have taken a few by surprise with his decision to bat first, although he might argue that his players are at least close to the four-an-over run-rate required in the 42 overs possible after rain delayed the start until 2pm.

Whether they turn that into a substantial hand of points is another matter, especially since they have also lost Stevie Eskinazi, at least for the moment. He was hit on the head by a ball from Lyndon James on 23 and was not deemed fit to continue.

It looks vital that the partnership between Ryan Higgins (60) and John Simpson (26), currently worth 69, turns into something substantial on day two.

The day had begun with Nottinghamshire announcing the pending departure from the club of Jake Ball, their 32-year-old former England fast bowler, who was integral to the county winning the T20 Blast in 2017 and 2020 but has made only a handful of Championship appearances in recent seasons because of recurrent injury problems.

Thankfully fit currently, and with Nottinghamshire already assured of remaining in Division One next season, Ball was given the chance to say a proper goodbye, making his first outing in the red-ball side since July in place of the Sri Lankan Asitha Fernando.

He took the new ball alongside Brett Hutton, who has been the mainstay of the Nottinghamshire attack this year with Olly Stone and Luke Fletcher also sidelined. Neither of them started particularly well but took wickets in consecutive overs to remove both Middlesex openers with 33 on the board.

Ball struck first, drawing an edge from Sam Robson for his 204th first-class wicket for the county, before Hutton straightened one to dismiss Mark Stoneman leg before.

Eskinazi had an escape on four, dropped by Joe Clarke at first slip with Ball about to celebrate a second wicket, but the introduction of Lyndon James as Hutton took a breather brought a divided immediately when the all-rounder’s first delivery, angled in to Max Holden, took out the left-hander’s middle stump.

Middlesex were 93 for three when Eskinazi, struck a nasty blow on the side of the head attempting to pull James, had to leave the field. Ironically, Eskinazi’s last Championship appearance in a disappointing season, against Lancashire two weeks ago, was as a concussion substitute after Holden was hurt during the warm-ups on day two.

A brief stoppage for a shower at 117 for three was followed by another interruption after Steven Mullaney landed heavily making a diving stop, the Nottinghamshire skipper becoming the second injury casualty of the day, although he was soon back on the field.

It will be determined overnight whether Middlesex need a concussion sub for Eskinazi. In the meantime, Higgins is taking the lead role on the field, reaching his second consecutive fifty and his ninth of the season, from 63 balls with six fours.

The three changes made by Middlesex included the omission of Tim Murtagh, who is retiring at the end of the season at the age of 42, which means that his appearance in the eight-wicket defeat to Warwickshire at Lord’s, in which he took six for 83 in the first innings and eight in the match, was his final farewell after 23 years as a player, first at Surrey, and at Middlesex since 2007.

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Related fixture

Tue 26 September
LV= Insurance County Championship - Division 1
Trent Bridge
Start Time: 10:30
Duration: 4 days

Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire
Middlesex Middlesex

Nottinghamshire won by 2 wickets