Middlesex made to work hard by Warwickshire

Ollie Rayner in bowling action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Ollie Rayner in bowling action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Defending champions frustrated in the field

Middlesex saw Warwickshire’s Rikki Clarke return to form with the bat as the home side reached 302-7 on the first day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.

Clarke was out in the final over of the day after a classy 83 (139 balls, nine fours, one six) having turned his team’s position from a troublesome one into one from which they will aim for a total to put the visitors under pressure.

Middlesex’s depleted seam attack, missing Steve Finn (sore back) and Toby Roland-Jones (England duty), had bowled well as a unit to have the home side vulnerable at several points: 19-2, 119-4 and 219-6.

But on each occasion the killer thrusts eluded them as Warwickshire fought back, their resistance led first by Jonathan Trott (49, 103 balls, six fours) and 20-year-old Matt Lamb (51,125 balls, five fours) and then by Clarke.

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After Middlesex took up the option to bowl, they swiftly removed both openers. William Porterfield edged Tim Murtagh to wicketkeeper John Simpson then Andy Umeed fell to a third-slip catch by Steve Eskinazi off James Harris.

Trott, captaining the side with Ian Bell ruled out by a sore elbow, added 67 in 17 overs with Sam Hain before the latter (35, 62 balls, five fours) edged Ryan Higgins behind.

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Trott looked in excellent nick but departed in curious fashion when he tried to fetch a pull from the off-side but instead sent the simplest of return catches to Tom Helm.

The impressive Higgins soon trapped Tim Ambrose lbw but Lamb, in good form having made 99 for Barnt Green against West Bromwich Dartmouth in the Birmingham League last Saturday, knuckled down to reach his maiden championship half-century in 120 balls.

It was a composed and impressively patient knock with his team under pressure, but he didn’t get much further. Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan turned to spinner Ollie Rayner who induced an edge to slip where Sam Robson took a fine catch, two-handed diving to his right.

That ended a stand of 78 in 23 overs between Lamb and Clarke and left Warwickshire 219-6 so further quick wickets would have given Middlesex control.

But Keith Barker dug in alongside Clarke and the seventh-wicket pair saw off the old ball and scored crisply against to add 83 before Clarke fell lbw to Harris to the first ball of the final over of the day.

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