Middlesex 162 for 7 v Hampshire
It had been always likely to be about bonus points. Middlesex, hamstrung by way of a venue unfit for Championship cricket, experienced to graft more in the torrential rain delays than out in the centre. Up to now, only 59 overs have already been possible across three days. For the reason that time, Middlesex have already been struggling to get far.
They’re currently 162 for 7, locked within their own battle for whatever they are able to muster from the game which has probably put a fork in outground cricket in September. Who knows what it could mean for the defending champion’s Division One status.
It’s hard never to read that sentence and today believe that it is melodramatic. However the truth of the problem is that even Hampshire, who started the growing season as runaway leaders before Essex shaped up, were mathematically vunerable to the drop before this round. Now, their two bowling points combined with the inevitable points because of this draw will undoubtedly be enough. They are sitting pretty throughout this match. While Middlesex’s players and managing director of cricket Angus Fraser have pitched in with the groundstaff, the Hants players kept warm indoors with an extremely justified sense of “not our problem”. They’re as annoyed as anyone at having less cricket this week.
The initial order of business for the umpires today was to announce an early on lunch for 12pm, allowing further checks on hawaii of the bottom during the day. Hourly updates on hawaii of play followed, until 3pm, when it had been decided a 3.30pm start works. At that time, Yorkshire, who started this round level on points with Middlesex – just 13 above the relegation zone – had raised their first batting point. Typically, 30 mins later, it started raining at Uxbridge.
Not for the 1st time, Middlesex players, associated with Fraser, helped out a skeleton groundstaff and covered just as much of the bottom because they could. Their quick work preserved the areas worst suffering from the prior deluges and in addition ensured play could begin at 4.15pm, under bright sunshine. Over in south London, Yorkshire were bowled out 198 lacking Surrey’s first innings, and were duly forced to check out on.
Victory over Yorkshire would be the to begin two favours Middlesex will ask of these south London rivals this fortnight. While a go back to Lord’s in a few days sees Lancashire as opponents, Surrey host Somerset.
But whatever local cheer sunlight brought had dissipated by stumps. Having restarted the innings on 76 for 3, with 28.5 overs remaining, a number of misjudgements resulted in nov four wickets. Needless to say, Hampshire bowled well for his or her lot: Adam Voges squared-up expertly by Fidel Edwards and caught at second slip by Jimmy Adams, before Adams took his second when Middlesex debutant Max Holden threw his hands an excellent delivery from Ian Holland. A big change at the Gatting Way End saw Kyle Abbott go back to pick up the final two, forcing James Franklin to play on and James Harris never to play at all – bowled and lbw for ducks, respectively.
Then, news filtered through of a fightback from Yorkshire that meant they reached the close of day three on 59 for 1, 139 behind. Meanwhile Somerset were rounding on a victory at Taunton against Lancashire: the visitors 45 ahead with just two wickets remaining.
If Somerset give Essex the title with a win, and Yorkshire hold firm, Middlesex will drop in to the relegation places as long as they leave Uxbridge with out a bonus point. Somerset, who watched on in horror as a Championship title was ripped from them by way of a manufactured chase at Lord’s in an exciting finale to the 2016 summer, host Middlesex in the ultimate round of the growing season. Contrivance, anyone?
Vithushan Ehantharajah is really a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport