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Middlesex v Hampshire: So frustrating says Harris

PUBLISHED: 08:20 15 September 2017

Middlesex's James Harris (pic PA)

Middlesex's James Harris (pic PA)

Archant

Middlesex will start the final day of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Hampshire at Uxbridge on 162-7, after only 59 overs of play in the first three days at Uxbridge.

Half of those came on Thursday, as the hosts added 86 runs to their total for the loss of four more wickets.

But the defending champions look like being dragged into a relegation fight, with Somerset on course for a win against Lancashire.

Seam bowler Harris said: “It has been frustrating. It’s never good when it hasn’t rained all day and you’re still not playing by late afternoon.

“At the big grounds we’ve become accustomed to outfields that drain in minutes and really good coverage, so much so that if it’s not physically raining you expect to be playing.

“That’s not the same at outgrounds and these have been a few ‘old school’ days if you like, where the ground is just so waterlogged and we can’t get on to play.

“This place is normally baked through at this time of year, and the outfield is so white that you don’t enjoy diving because it’s bone hard.

“Yet this year it looks more like a rugby field in March because they’ve had 14 to 15 consecutive days where they’ve had rain.

“The water table is so high that the rain has nowhere to go, so it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just a real shame all round.”

Overnight rain and an afternoon shower had led to another frustrating day and five inspections for umpires Graham Lloyd and Russell Evans.

The officials planned to resume at 3.30pm with a possible 40 overs to bowl but, with the teams warming up on the outfield, the rain returned. To their credit, both sets of players, as well as Middlesex managing director of cricket, Angus Fraser, helped the groundstaff drag the covering onto the pitch to ensure some late-afternoon action.

Play eventually began at 4.15pm on Thursday and, with the sun finally on his back, West Indies paceman Fidel Edwards gave the visitors their first breakthrough to end a fourth-wicket stand of 58 between debutant Max Holden and Adam Voges, who nicked to Jimmy Adams at second slip.

Left-hander Holden added an eye-catching 32 to the cause before blotting his copybook, chasing a wider one from Ian Holland and edging into the cordon where Adams pocketed his third catch of the match.

Kyle Abbott then got into the action, pegging back James Franklin’s off stump via an inside edge to send the Middlesex skipper packing without scoring and give Hampshire their second bowling bonus point.

Then, in his next over, Abbott snared Harris lbw for a duck after the all-rounder’s late decision to shoulder arms to an in-ducker ended with the ball brushing his back pad.

Third-placed Hampshire had hoped to maintain pressure on the top two but, for Middlesex, bonus points and a win remained more pertinent in fending off the threat of relegation.

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