Match Report | Middlesex v Essex

lords 

Middlesex v Essex | Specsavers County Championship | Lord’s, London
Friday 21 – Monday 24 April
Middlesex team | Sam Robson (12), Nick Gubbins (18), Steve Eskinazi (28), Dawid Malan (29), Adam Voges (32), John Simpson+ (20) James Franklin* (74), Toby Roland-Jones (21), Ollie Rayner (2), Tim Murtagh (34), Steven Finn (9).

Essex team | Alastair Cook (26), Nick Browne (10), Tom Westley (21), Dan Lawrence (28), Ravi Bopara (25), Adam Wheater+ (31), Ryan ten Doeschate* (27), Simon Harmer (11), Neil Wagner (13),  Aaron Beard (14), Jamie Porter (44).

Umpires | Paul Baldwin & Ian Gould

Scorers | A E Choat & D Shelley

Toss | Uncontested – Essex will field first

Day Four | Tendo happy with the draw after weather brings an end to play

Day Four | Close of Play Report

Essex emerged with a draw from the Division One Specsavers County Championship match with 2016 Champions Middlesex at Lord’s, but they were indebted to some resolute batting and assistance from the weather before the game was saved.

Starting the day needing a further 433 runs for victory, the visitors had been 130 for 6 when bad light brought about an early tea and when play resumed, there were 30 overs still available.

It took only two deliveries for Ravi Bopara to succumb when he was undone by a beauty from Steven Finn that left Essex 130 for 7 and a win for Middlesex seemingly inevitable. Bopara’s two hour innings during which he faced 93 balls though was to prove a defining factor in the final outcome.

He had been a model of self-restraint and defence against an attack that exploited an increasingly helpful pitch offering seam movement and uneven bounce.

When the final hour commenced at 5:18pm, Essex had moved onto 160 for 7 but with the light deteriorating, Middlesex were forced to engage spin at both ends.

Simon Harmer, who had taken his lead from Bopara in a worthy hour and a half display of admirable resilience, was trapped leg before to the leg spin of Dawid Malan for 20 having been joined in an eight wicket stand with Neil Wagner worth 30 runs that frustrated the home side for almost an hour.

Repeated conversations at the end of each over between the umpires over the suitability of the light were now taking place and they finally decided that play could not continue just three overs into the final hour.

The clock started to run down on Middlesex hopes and although the officials carried out a further series of inspections with their light meter, they finally called the game off almost an hour after the final interruption.

There had been a slight delay for light in the morning session when two overs were lost and by lunch, Middlesex had accounted for Nick Browne (19), Tom Westley (13) and Alastair Cook for 37 during which the England Test player passed 20,000 first-class runs.

Two more wickets toppled with the score on 104 when Dan Lawrence (15) and Adam Wheater (0) perished and 12 runs later, Ryan ten Doeschate was dismissed for 1 to leave the home side in total control on the pitch although unable to take charge of the weather elements.

Essex collected 8 points and Middlesex 12 points.

Day Four | Tea Report

Essex are hanging on desperately in their attempt to escape with a draw from their match with Middlesex at Lord’s having reached 130 for 6 when bad light at 3.10 p.m. brought the players off the field and with the threat of rain imminent.

Tea was taken with Ravi Bopara 32 not out and Simon Harmer 8 not out.

The visitors lost three wickets after lunch including two in four overs as current County Champions looked nailed on to complete victory.

Steven Finn and spinner Ollie Rayner resumed the action after the break against Bopara and Dan Lawrence who were understandably circumspect in their approach.

With the wicket assisting the bowlers, both batsmen concentrated on defence and survival but having added 20 runs in nine post-lunch overs, the partnership was ended when Lawrence drove at a delivery from Finn that found the edge to be caught by Adam Voges at first slip.

Lawrence had scored 15 and three overs later without addition to the total of 104, Adam Wheater became the fifth wicket to fall.

Facing Toby Roland-Jones, he edged a catch to Dawid Malan at third slip when still to get off the mark.

Antoher wicket fell 4 overs later and this time, it was skipper Ryan ten Doeschate who was the victim as Roland-Jones gained movement to have the batsman caught in the slips for a single.

Now 116 for 6, Simon Harmer joined the vigilant Bopara. In fading light, Middlesex soon turned to spin at both ends with Malan bringing his occasional leg-spin into the attack.

However with the umpires decided that the light was not good enough to continue and opted for an early tea. Shortly afterwards, light rain began to fall and the covers came on.

The gallant Bopara has so far batted for two hours and faced 91 balls in an exhibition of dogged defiance.

Day Four | Lunch Report

Essex lost three wickets in the morning session in their attempt to stave off defeat by Middlesex at Lord’s as they as they reached Lunch on 84 for 3, requiring a further 368 for victory with two sessions remaining.

Dan Lawrence is unbeaten on 4 and Ravi Bopara is 6 not out.

Nick Browne, Tom Westley and Alastair Cook were the batsmen to lose their wickets leaving Lawrence and Bopara to take the visitors through to the Lunch interval on a pitch that is offering great assistance to a fine bowling attack that are exploiting uneven bounce and sideways movement.

Essex began the day on 19 without loss still requiring a further 433 runs to win

But after two overs, drizzle and bad light brought the players off the field with only one run added.

The interruption was brief with only two movers lost and Cook showed his concentration had not been affected when he produced a superbly timed off drive against Tim Murtagh to add four runs to his account.

Fellow opener Browne had scored a couple of runs when he became the first victim of the day being clean bowled by Murtagh for 19 with 38 runs on the board.

Westley got off the mark in the same over with a boundary and then Cook found the ropes again with a shot that took him to 20,000 first-class runs.

The bowlers though were asking continued questions of the Essex pair and were rewarded with two wickets in the space of nine deliveries and both with the total on 74.

Westley, on 13, was trapped in front of his stumps by Toby Roland-Jones and then Cook was caught at short-leg for 37 in spinner Ollie Rayner’s first over of the day.

That left Lawrence and Bopara to carry the fight through to the break against a potent attack and indifferent light. They survived the remaining 10 overs with a couple of near misses along the way and with Rayner deploying three men around the bat.

Day Three | Match Highlights

Day Three | Dan Lawrence continues his fine form

Day Three | Close of Play Report

Essex reached the close of the third day on 19 without loss in their second innings having been set 452 for victory. Nick Browne struck four boundaries during the 6 overs that his side were left to face in the final session to reach 17 whilst Alastair Cook was 2 not out.

Having bowled their opponents out for 295 in their first innings, Middlesex decided against enforcing the follow-on in favour of a pursuit of quick runs before challenging the visitors to chase down a mammoth total.

The current County Champions galloped along before declaring on 239 for 3 after the innings was launched in rapid fashion before their openers were parted.

Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins piled on the runs to reach half-centuries from 61 and 49 balls respectively and their first wicket stand had realised 146 runs in 24 overs with contemptuous ease before both were removed by Simon Harmer in successive overs.

Robson on 77 straight drove to Dan Lawrence in the deep and then Gubbins picked out Ravi Bopara at cover having scored 64 that included two sixes, one off Harmer and the other when facing Neil Wagner.

Both batsmen though had done an excellent  job for their side finding the gaps with ease to collect runs at quick tempo against an attack that could do little to curb the flow of runs.

However if the bowlers felt some relief at the departure of the opening duo, then they were in for a rude awakening as Stevie Eskinazi set about a personal one-man demolition act on the  opposition.

He only faced 34 balls but struck 62 that included five sixes and five fours. Three of the maximum blows came off the bowling of Jamie Porter in an over that cost 24 runs whilst the other two were against Harmer.

Harmer did gain consolation when the batsman drive to Wagner on the deep cover boundary having dominated a breathless third wicket stand of 75 in 8 overs with Dawid Malan.

Earlier Lawrence and Adam Wheater hit half-centuries for the visitors as they attempted to revive the Essex fortunes. When they started their sixth wicket partnership, half of the side were back in the pavilion with only 126  runs on the board; Bopara having been an early casualty in the morning’s play  for just 6 runs.

Both were both characteristically gritty in their approach to stabilise a flagging innings although the latter did survive three difficult chances to dismiss him.

He was on 27 when Ollie Rayner failed to complete a hard chance at second slip, then on 33, the batsman edged a chance to wicket-keeper John Simpson who went at full-stretch but could only help the ball on its way to the boundary.  Then within 8 runs of his half-century Wheater edged the ball towards third slip  where a diving Robson got his fingers to the ball but could not complete the catch and then saw the ball reach the ropes. In each case Toby Roland-Jones was the unfortunate bowler.

Either side of those chances, Wheater drove powerfully and proved a fine ally for the careful Lawrence who combined discipline with a number of flowing strokes on both sides of the wicket.

Lawrence arrived at a three-hour half-century shortly after lunch having been 10 overnight. He had faced 130 deliveries and collected seven fours and in the next over, Wheater also reached the milestone with his 8th boundary when he cover drove Tim Murtagh.

Lawrence and Wheater had restored some semblance of respectability to the innings completing a century partnership in almost three hours  but after ensuring a second batting point, their resistance ended with the score on 253  when Wheater, on 64, swept spinner Ollie Rayner  to mid-wicket  where Stevie Eskinazi  completed the catch at the second attempt.

That was the first of five wickets to fall in 17 overs, including three in 32 balls  with the new ball that was taken at 267-6.

Ryan ten Doeschate scored 20 during which he passed 9,000 first-class career runs before he was leg before to Tim Murtagh. Harmer scored 1 before he drove Finn  to mid-wicket  and then Lawrence’s brave fight came to an end.

He had batted for 4 hours 40 minutes and faced 185 balls of which nine found the boundary on his way to a resolute 75 before he went across his stumps and was lbw to Finn.

The last wicket pair of Neil Wagner and Aaron Beard needed 12 runs to complete a third batting point but were undone five runs short of their target when Wagner had his off stump uprooted by Finn who finished with figures of 4 for 51.

Day Three | Tea Report

Essex have been dismissed for 295 to hand Middlesex a first innings lead of 212 runs but surprisingly the home side have opted not to enforce the follow-on.

Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater both contributed half-centuries and composed a sixth wicket stand worth 127 runs but when that defiance was ended, the innings tailed away quickly.

Essex lost five wickets in the post-lunch session including three in the space of 32 balls after Lawrence and Wheater had continued their efforts in rebuilding the damage that had seen their side slump to 126  for 5 earlier in the day.

Wheater’s 8th boundary of his innings took him to his half-century, an innings spanning 91 deliveries at that point but with the score on 253, he swept at a delivery from spinner Ollie Rayner and was caught at square leg for 64.

Ryan ten Doeschate stayed for half an hour before being trapped leg before by Tim Murtagh although his 20 runs took him past 9,000 first-class runs.

Simon Harmer scored a single before he drove Steven Finn to mid-wicket and the third wicket to fall in just over 5 overs was the gritty Lawrence whose three-hour 50 had come from 130 balls and included 7 boundaries.

The teenager had advanced to 75 when he went across his stumps facing Finn and was leg before wicket to leave the visitors 288 for 9.

Neil Wagner and Aaron Beard were left with the prospect of securing a third batting point and were within 5 runs of their target when Wagner lost his off stump to Finn for 3.

Day Three | Lunch Report

A rescue act from Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater has been the feature of the morning from the Essex perspective. They reached the lunch break on 213 for 5 with Lawrence 47 not out and Wheater 46 not out in reply to Midldesex’s 507-7 declared.

The pair have so far added  87 runs in 25 overs and provided some stability to an innings that had wilted.

Wheater and Lawrence grafted and drove profitably on a pitch offering seam movement but Wheater’s survival was aided by three dropped catches and each time when facing Toby Roland-Jones. He was given his first “life” on 27, then six runs later and a third on 42.

The first chance came when a low edge was spilled by Ollie Rayner at second slip before another edge went to the boundary after being deflected off keeper John Simpson’s gloves.

It was third time lucky as well for Wheater when, on 42,  he thick-edged a drive to third slip where the diving Sam Robson got his fingers to it but could not prevent the ball making its way  to the boundary.

The total reached 150 thanks to a no ball by James Franklin and the batting duo advanced steadily and responsibly although interspersed with moments of counter-attack against a well-balanced Middlesex attack.

Wheater produced the shot of the morning when he straight drove Tim Murtagh to the ropes and in the next over, Lawrence gave damning evidence of his delightful strokeplay with a cover  drive against Franklin.

Essex had resumed on 120 for 4 and still requiring another 238 to avoid the follow-on but within five overs, they had lost the wicket of Ravi Bopara who was caught at third slip by Sam Robson when facing Toby Roland-Jones to give the bowler his third wicket of the innings.

Bopara had made a circumspect start and he got off the mark to the 14th ball of the session before a trademark boundary off Steven Finn offered hope of good times ahead for the batsman.

However, having scored 6, he failed to contend with the movement explored by Roland-Jones to leave the visitors 126 for 5.

Day Two | Match Highlights

Day Two | Jamie Porter discusses events of Day Two

Day Two | Close of Play Report

Essex reached the close of the second day on 120 for 4 still requiring a further 238 runs to avert the follow-on after Middlesex declared on 507 for 7 in the Specsavers County Championship clash at Lord’s.

Dan Lawrence will resume on 10 not out with Ravi Bopara yet to get off the mark after the visitors lost four wickets in the final extended session of play after the loss of overs on the opening day.

Starting their reply with 36 overs remaining, openers Nick Browne and Alastair Cook both opened their accounts with boundaries and looked in good form against the new ball attack of Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones.

The boundaries continued with Cook producing a splendid cover drive off Roland-Jones whilst his partner struck Murtagh for successive straight-driven fours.

The pair had posted 34 in 6 overs when the partnership was broken by  Roland-Jones when Cook, on 14,  edged a comfortable catch through to the wicket keeper.

Tom Westley joined Browne and the pair grafted responsibly whilst quick to pounce on the less worthy delivery. They had batted together for 70 minutes and taken the score to 86 when Westley, who had scored 31, was beaten off the pitch and was bowled by Finn.

The with just under four overs left for play, Browne failed to deal with a delivery from spinner Ollie Rayner, was struck on the pads and saw the finger of fate raised by the umpire to send him on his way having scored 47 out of 115.

After the benign track of the opening day, Essex found some life in the pitch when play resumed 20 minutes late because of bad light and drizzle. Neil Wagner and Jamie Porter found bounce and carry and it was the latter who exploited the conditions to best effect although the pitch flattened out after lunch to inflict an session of hard graft.

Porter wasted little time in accounting for Sam Robson who had resumed on 144 but only scored 5 runs before Porter induced a fatal edge to give Adam Wheater a catch.

The bowler had already beaten the bat on a couple of occasions and his misfortune continued  against new batsman Dawid Malan who played and missed three times in one over.

A bowling change brought Ravi Bopara into the attack and an in-swinging delivery found Malan chopping the ball onto his stumps to leave the hosts 305 for 3.

At lunch, the score had advanced to 321 for 3 but after the downfall of Adam Voges for 13 when he was struck on the pads looking to play the ball into the leg side, the sun shone and  the pitch became placid  allowing the batsmen prospered.

The bat seemed to become broader during the afternoon with Stevie Eskinazi and John Simpson making hay .

There was superb sporting gesture by Essex during the afternoon play.  Bowler Neil Wagner and batsman Simpson collided giving the visitors the opportunity of a run out with the score on 378 for 4. Eskinazi had set off for a single but Simpson on 22, and who was backing-up, collided with Wagner during the bowler’s follow-through and fell over.

Although the ball was returned to the vacant striker’s end and a bail removed, fielding captain Ryan ten Doeschate withdrew the appeal for the run out.

Simpson arrived at his 50 with his seventh four from 90 balls and the pair raised a hundred partnership from 154 balls. Their fifth wicket stand ended when Eskinazi attempted to slog Tom Westley into the leg side and was bowled for 100.

The pair had added 149 in 35 overs with Eskinazi, who had produced  some classically-timed  drives, becoming the third centurion of the innings reaching his hundred from 198 balls that included 11 boundaries.  They did, though, delay upping the tempo until later in their liaison which did much to deny their side a fifth batting point.

James Franklin was well caught by Dan Lawrence  running from cover off Ryan ten Doeschate for 3 and then Simpson came down the pitch to Simon Harmer and was stumped for 90 at which point, the home side declared.

Porter, the pick of the bowlers ended with 2 for 90 from 28 overs and deserved better for his untiring effort.

Day Two | Tea Report

Middlesex added 128 runs in the post-lunch session to reach tea on 451 for 4 with Stevie Eskinazi unbeaten on 94 and John Simpson 53 not out.

Essex had to only wait two overs into the afternoon to claim the fourth victim of the innings. Jamie Porter had taken the new ball after 93 overs with the total on 323-3 and with the last delivery that over, Adam Voges was struck on the pads looking to play into the leg side and was leg before wicket for 13.

Eskinazi completed his half-century form 107 deliveries  with a straight drive to the boundary, the seventh four of his innings, but then became becalmed on 52 facing a further 26  deliveries before adding to his score.

Essex are to be applauded for their chivalrous gesture when bowler Neil Wagner and batsman John Simpson collided giving the visitors the opportunity of a run out with the score on 378 for 4. Eskinazi set off for a single but Simpson on 22,  and who was backing-up,  collided with Wagner during the bowler’s follow-through and fell over.

Although the ball was returned to the vacant striker’s end and a bail removed, fielding captain Ryan ten Doeschate withdrew the appeal for the run out.

Interest then focused on the home side’s attempts to achieve their 5th batting point. With four overs remaining, the target was a further 24 runs and then 12 overs from the final available over.

Wagner though restricted the batsmen to 3 runs.

The total moved onto 400 in the following over and the stand between Eskinazi and Simpson gathered pace with the pair posting a century partnership in 154 balls.

Simpson became the fourth batsman in the innings to pass 50, his half-century spanning 90 deliveries and completed with his seventh boundary.

Day Two | Lunch Report

Middlesex were 321 for 3 at the lunch interval on day two of their Specsavers County Championship match with Essex at Lord’s with Stevie Eskinazi unbeaten on 36 and Adam Voges 8 not out.

Play was delayed for 20 minutes because of drizzle and bad light but the home side, who resumed on 255 for 1, were immediately amongst  the runs when Neil Wagner’s opening delivery of the day was edged to the vacant third man boundary  for 4 by Eskinazi who appeared to attempt to withdraw his bat.

Wagner’s next delivery flew over the head of wicket-keeper Adam Wheater for 4 byes and then two deliveries later, another boundary was collected when Eskinazi found the ropes.

The pitch offered more encouragement for the bowlers than it had done on the opening day.  Jamie Porter, bowling from the Nursery End, found impressive lift and movement and had Sam Robson in trouble from the start. The opener was 144 not out when play re-commenced but might have been out when he pulled out of an intended shot at the last moment.

However, Porter was rewarded when his next delivery caught the edge of the bat and Wheater took the catch to end Robson’s innings worth 149 to leave Middlesex 277 for 2.

Porter continued to impress and three times in one over, beat new batsman Dawid Malan outside off stump.

Ravi Bopara took over from Porter and gained sufficient swing movement to trouble both batsmen. In his fourth over, the all-rounder bowled Malan for 14 when the left-hander chopped  an in-swinging ball onto his stumps with the total on 305.

That was the last success of Essex in the session although Wagner  did inconvenience Eskinazi who appeared to be struck on the shoulder with the ball ricocheting onto his head necessitating lengthy on field treatment just before lunch. Fortunately, the batsman was able to continue.

Day One | Match Highlights

Day One | Chris Silverwood reflects

Day One | Close of Play Report

Sam Robson continued his love affair with the Essex attack when he struck his third century in as many Championship matches between the two teams as Middlesex reached 255 for 1 before bad light curtailed proceedings shortly after the tea interval.

At that stage Robson had scored an unbeaten 144 after he and his opening partner Nick Gubbins had played superbly to thwart the Essex attack who slaved away on a green-tinged although it proved flat.

Middlesex, who were crowned County champions last year, took first innings following an uncontested toss but there proved to be little encouragement for any of the seven bowlers deployed by skipper Ryan ten Doeschate as Robson and Gubbins dominated the proceedings from the start.

Playing with mature good sense, both batsmen drove powerfully on either side of the wicket  with Robson exuding   the confidence of a player who has prospered so well against an Essex attack in the past.

The pair completed their century stand in the 26th over of the day and had reached 200 by the 51st over. The only moment of real concern at that stage came when Jamie Porter believed  he had found the edge  when Gubbins had scored 38 out of 78  with the ball ending in the hands of Alastair Cook at first slip.  However, the appeal was turned down leaving Gubbins and Robson to continue their impressive partnership.

By lunch, the Middlesex duo had reached 105 and they upped the tempo in the afternoon session adding a further 136 runs with the fluent Robson the first to his three figures having faced 140 deliveries and arriving at the milestone with his 19th boundary, this one an edge to third man when facing Ravi Bopara.

Gubbins 100 spanned 192 balls and 254 minutes and embraced 13 fours and two sixes, both off Simon Harmer. However in the final over before tea with his score on 101 out of 241, he played back to a delivery from Aaron Beard and edged the ball into the gloves of Adam Wheater.

With Stevie Eskinazi having just got off the mark and  four overs into the final session, Neil Wagner was restored to the attack. That persuaded the umpires to decide that the light was not good enough they took the players off the field and after three inspections, t hey decided to end a difficult day for the Essex bowlers.

They will have the prospect of resuming their efforts to unhinge Robson when play resumes, the opener having so far faced 196 deliveries and struck 24 fours.

Day One | Tea Report

Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins continued to enjoy themselves on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Lord’s until the latter was  caught for 101 off what proved to be the final delivery before tea. Their opening stand had put on 241 with Robson 131 at the interval.

They added 136 runs in the post-lunch session in what proved an afternoon of toil for the Essex bowlers

It was the third time in as many Championship matches between the two Counties that Robson had posted a three-figure score and this latest one spanned 140 deliveries and arrived with the 19th boundary of his innings.

He registered 146 in May 2011 and 110 in August 2009 and seldom looked in any trouble in completing his “hat-trick” of hundreds with sweetly-timed drives on either side of the wicket. By tea, his boundary count had reached 22 as he and his opening partner left the Essex attack struggling to curb the flow of runs.

He did miscue a delivery from Simon Harmer when he had scored 125 as he top-edged a ball into the deep but the ball fell safely.

Gubbins played the support role – effectively – reaching his half-century from 110 balls with the assistance of 9 fours and it was the left-hander who collected the  first two sixes off the match and both when facing Harmer.

Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate used seven bowlers as he tried to  break the stand but there was little encouragement from the pitch nor the batsmen whose sound technique proved a constant frustration to the visitors hopes of capitalising after an uncontested toss.

However, when facing the second ball of the final over before tea, Gubbins played back and edged a ball from Aaron Beard into the gloves of Adam Wheater to give Essex some small consolation for their efforts.

Day One | Lunch Report

A successful morning for Middlesex who had reached 105 without loss at the interval with Sam Robson 63 and Nick Gubbins 40.

An uncontested toss saw the home side and County Champions bat first but there were few concerns for their opening pair.

On what was an easy-paced pitch, both were selective in driving and cutting powerfully to keep the score ticking over at an acceptable pace.

The visitors used five bowlers in an unsuccessful bid to find the breakthrough with Jamie Porter and Neil Wagner taking the new ball.

Wagner, bowling from the Pavilion End conceded two fours in his 4th over and was immediately replaced having yielded 19 runs off his four overs.

Simon Harmer took over whilst Aaron Beard eventually replaced Porter (5-1-16-0) at the Nursery End. The Middlesex openers brought up the 50 in the 14th over and advanced in untroubled fashion.

With the score on 76, Ravi Bopara tried his arm at the Nursery End but it was Porter who found a delivery two runs later that was to raise Essex hopes of a wicket.

The paceman had a strong appeal for a catch against Nick Gubbins by Alastair Cook at first slip turned down leaving bowler and batsman to exchange a few “pleasantries”. Gubbins was on 38 at the time but was to reach lunch without further concern.

Meanwhile Robson reached his half-century with a couple of runs off Harmer, his 50 arriving from 67 balls that included 9 fours.

Essex made a lone change from the side that beat Somerset in their previous match with Aaron Beard replacing Ashar Zaidi.