Cricket: Middlesex bounce back against Worcestershire

Dawid Malan in batting action for Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA)

Dawid Malan in batting action for Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Middlesex struck back with the ball after being dismissed for 221 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship with Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road.

The visitors were bowled out in 66.2 overs after being put into bat with Charlie Morris and Josh Tongue continuing their impressive start to the season.

Morris, the leading wicket-taker in Division Two, picked up three more scalps to take his tally to 23 and Tongue also added a further trio of wickets to lift his total to 15.

Only Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan (45), who had recovered from a groin injury suffered on England duty earlier in the month, and keeper John Simpson (35) batted with much authority.

But Tom Helm bowled a fine new ball spell for Middlesex which brought him two wickets and then Callum Ferguson fell just before the close for an aggressive 37 and Worcestershire will restart tomorrow on 64-3 from 27 overs.

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Batting was a challenging exercise for the bulk of the day in the first meeting between the two counties since 2015 with the ball nibbling around sufficiently to keep bowlers interested and occasionally keeping low.

It is the start of successive home games for Worcestershire against three of the pre-season favourites for promotion along with themselves in Middlesex, Lancashire and Sussex.

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They were without all-rounder Wayne Parnell (hamstring) but welcomed back Tongue after a one game injury absence while fit again Malan and Tim Murtagh - available after international commitments with Ireland - returned for Middlesex.

Morris broke through in his first over of the day as Max Holden (0) played half forward and nicked through to Ben Cox.

England opener Sam Robson (15) was lbw to a Tongue delivery which kept low and Nick Gubbins (27) was bowled by Ross Whiteley.

Malan, who suffered his injury blow in an ODI against Ireland, and Steve Eskinazi, looked to be repairing the pre-lunch damage during a partnership of 62.

But Whiteley enjoyed a second success when Eskinazi (27) was leg before and then Malan departed in the same fashion to Morris after striking six fours in his 91 ball knock.

James Harris (12) became another lbw victim in the next over from Ed Barnard.

Simpson and Toby Roland-Jones (12) added 31 before the latter went for a cut against Joe Leach and fell to a sharp first slip catch by Riki Wessels.

Tongue accounted for Tom Helm (1) and Nathan Sowter (20) - the fifth player of the innings to fall lbw.

Simpson was largely responsible for taking Middlesex past the 200 mark until he ballooned a simple catch to Whiteley on the off side against Morris.

Morris finished with figures of 15.2-2-53-3 and Tongue 17-2-49-3 with Whiteley (2-35), Leach (1-58) and Barnard (1-14) the other wicket-takers.

When Worcestershire batted, Daryl Mitchell (3) and George Rhodes (4) were both caught behind off Helm during a fine opening spell of 5-2-6-2

Ferguson played himself but then reeled off a succession of boundaries, including three in an over from Harris.

He dominated a partnership of 53 with Tom Fell but after making 37 was lbw to Roland-Jones to leave the game evenly poised.

Fell remained defiant and was unbeaten on 18 from 86 balls by the close.

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