Middlesex 'need to build momentum'
PUBLISHED: 08:16 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:16 06 June 2017
Captain Franklin reflects on another draw
Though his team remains undefeated, Middlesex skipper James Franklin said they have yet to find top form in the Specsavers County Championship.
The defending champions settled on a rain-affected draw with Somerset at Lord’s on Monday, with the visitors 161-3 and ahead by 246 runs, after captain Tom Abell hit an unbeaten 71.
And Franklin said: “We’re four games in and still haven’t got a win. We’ve performed well in a couple of games and in the others we haven’t been at out best.
“That said, we’ve shown good resilience throughout and have earned a good reputation around the country for that. We’ve got a lot of cricket ahead of us and I’d like to think the first win isn’t too far away and we can then build some momentum through June.”
Batting again by 12.40pm and having secured a first-innings lead of 85, Somerset lost veteran opening bat Marcus Trescothick with only a single on the board.
The former England left-hander ducked into a well-directed bouncer from Toby Roland-Jones to glove a looping catch to wicketkeeper John Simpson and exit without scoring.
After lunch Dean Elgar, fresh from his first innings 158 that moved him beyond the 10,000-run milestone for his first-class career, had just posted his 500th run of the championship summer only to fall for 33.
Hanging his bat out to dry against Tom Helm, the left-hander edged into the cordon to be snaffled by Ollie Rayner at second slip.
Conversely, Somerset skipper Abell, who went into the game with less than 100 runs to his name from his first four championship starts, set out to bat time in a bid to reverse his run of poor form.
The Taunton-born right-hander featured in a stand of 42 with James Hildreth that ended when Hildreth departed to the third ball of the match from Middlesex off-spinner Paul Stirling. Making room and shaping to cut, Hildreth toe ended to the keeper and went for 23.
Abell marched on, moving past his modest season’s best of 40 just before tea to reach his 10th first-class 50 from 111 balls and with six fours.
The clouds converged soon after tea forcing a short break for bad light, after which Simpson, the Middlesex wicketkeeper, removed his pads, tossed the gloves to Stevie Eskinazi and sent down his maiden over in first-class cricket.
Simpson, Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins then took turns in serving up a series of long-hops and full-tosses to end the match on a somewhat farcical note.
Middlesex had batted on for another 14 overs at the start of the final day in adding 47 to their overnight, first-innings total.
Somerset made their first breakthrough after an hour to break an eighth-wicket stand between Helm and Franklin that added 62 inside 21.2 overs. Playing back in defence to Lewis Gregory’s first ball of the day from the Pavilion End, Helm lost his off stump to a shooting off-cutter to depart for a career-best 28.
Last man Tom Murtagh then sliced a drive off Gregory straight to cover point to leave Franklin marooned on 49 not out and end the innings.
Adam Voges’ retirement on Sunday with a calf injury ensured he played no further part in the home reply although his unbeaten 86 had eventually helped take his side to within 85 of the Somerset first innings.
The day started memorably for Middlesex opening batsman Nick Gubbins who received his commemorative, embroidered Middlesex county cap from India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar during a presentation in front of the pavilion.
On an otherwise sombre Monday at Lord’s, however, the county flags flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to the victims of Saturday night’s London Bridge terror attack.