Middlesex v Northants: Harris stars for hosts at Lord's
PUBLISHED: 19:16 14 April 2018 | UPDATED: 19:16 14 April 2018
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James Harris starred with bat and ball and there was a landmark moment for Tim Murtagh as Middlesex wrestled control from Northants on a day when 26 wickets fell at Lord’s.
Harris followed a gutsy unbeaten 46 with 5-9 for the 2016 County Champions looking for an immediate return to domestic cricket’s top tier following relegation last season.
The post-day drinks though may be on Murtagh who celebrated his 700th first-class wicket as Northants were routed for 71 in just 21.2 overs.
It gave Sam Robson’s side a 143-run first-innings lead despite losing their last six wickets for 78 in an elongated pre-lunch session.
Middlesex were in turn shot out for 159 second time round, 47 of which came in a 10th wicket frolic involving Murtagh (31) and Tom Helm, leaving Northants 304 to win.
Northants began the day with their noses in front, a grip tightened when Ben Sanderson dismissed overnight batsmen Paul Stirling (44) and John Simpson (32) in successive overs.
The visitors then didn’t help their cause, dropping two catches and Harris escaped again when Brett Hutton fumbled a run-out opportunity with the Welshman well short of his ground.
Hutton responded magnificently, completing a five-wicket haul, but Harris made the most of his lives, hitting 46 to guide Middlesex to 214 all out and a precious batting point.
Drama-a-plenty followed after lunch, with Murtagh pinning Rob Newton LBW with the second ball of the Northants reply.
Luke Proctor and Ben Duckett soon followed to leave the visitors 9-3, before Harris ended a brief counter-attack by bowling Richard Levi (20) off the inside edge.
So, began a spell of 3-0 for the ex-Glamorgan quick and Murtagh (4-27) weighed in with two more from the Nursery End, the second of which saw him castle Josh Cobb for a duck, the wicket which ensures his wallet will be in play in The Tavern tonight.
Northants were in disarray at 41-8 and while Hutton’s 18 ensured the follow-on was saved he completed Harris’ fifer driving a catch back to the bowler.
Robson fell early as Middlesex begun again, but Robbie White survived the prospect of a king pair on Championship debut and for a while batting looked a healthier occupation.
This wicket’s thirst for victims wasn’t quenched however and Max Holden’s dismissal for 33 heralded another collapse, four wickets falling for three runs in 25 balls, with Bracewell (3-31) the chief destroyer.
Proctor (3-38) also claimed three scalps as the procession to and from the pavilion continued until Murtagh’s late onslaught.
Northants had nine overs to survive but had reached 9-0 when bad light ended play just after 7pm. A daunting chase awaits.