Middlesex suffer 190 run defeat to Warwickshire
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In a remarkable end to a dramatic match, Warwickshire skittled Middlesex for 136 at Lord’s to claim their first win of the season in the Specsavers County Championship’s Division One by a thumping 190-run margin.
Chris Woakes, completing a successful comeback from a two-month injury lay-off, took 3 for 38 as he and Keith Barker, who snapped up the first three wickets to fall and finished with 3 for 21, left the Middlesex second innings in ruins.
And all this, on a humiliating day for the champions, after Barker and Chris Wright had earlier taken their unlikely ninth wicket partnership to 97 as Warwickshire, who resumed on 293 for 8, reached 361 in their own second innings to set Middlesex 327 to win on a pitch which had seemingly flattened out following the opening day carnage of 20 wickets.
Middlesex, it is true, were hampered by injuries to openers Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson – Gubbins was forced to come in at No 8 after tearing a hamstring in the field – but the way both their batting and bowling fell away in this game will be of great concern to them.
Warwickshire, meanwhile, though they may well remain bottom of Division One when this round of matches is done, are now only 31 points behind Middlesex – who began this game in fifth place – with five matches remaining for both counties in this summer’s campaign.
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Barker ended up on 62 not out from 109 balls, with eight fours, after resuming on 30 and his stand with Wright, who made an 83-ball 41 before being caught behind off Steven Finn, flourished in a morning session in which the Middlesex bowlers huffed and puffed to little effect.
Leg spinner Nathan Sowter then earned himself a maiden first-class wicket by bowling last man Ryan Sidebottom for 1, but by then the damage done was not just to Middlesex’s morale.
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Gubbins, in attempting to take a sprawling catch off a top edged Barker hook as he ran in from long leg, hurt himself so badly that he had to be helped from the field by Middlesex’s medical staff.
Gubbins was unable to open, meaning Nick Compton was promoted to partner Robson, who used Sowter as a runner as he made 19 despite a leg injury before being first out.
Middlesex were 20 without loss at lunch but that proved only to be the calm before the storm. The headlong collapse began at the start of the second over after the interval with Robson pinned leg-before by Barker who then, later in the same over, had Stevie Eskinazi taken at second slip for 2.
Left-armer Barker struck again in his next over, this time going around the wicket to surprise Compton with a nasty lifter that he touched to keeper Tim Ambrose to go for 3.
And 28 for 3 became 28 for 4 when Woakes nipped one off the seam to have John Simpson leg-before for 4. Ryan Higgins, after one extra cover driven four, was also leg-before to Woakes for 5 in the England all-rounder’s next over, and the same bowler soon breached James Franklin’s defences to bowl the Middlesex captain for 1.
From 45 for 6 there were a few defiant blows from Sowter, who had been joined by Gubbins and runner on Franklin’s dismissal, before his 37 ended when he turned the first ball of Sidebottom’s second over straight into the hands of short leg.
Middlesex’s tail was cleaned up by off spinner Jeetan Patel and right-arm seamer Sidebottom, who added 2 for 41 to his first innings’ 4 for 29 and completed a memorable championship debut by winning an leg-before appeal against Gubbins on 15 to finish the match.
Patel had Tom Helm taken at first slip for 15 and bowled Tim Murtagh for 0 to give himself figures of 2 for 19.
A last wicket frolic by No 11 Finn and the injured Gubbins, who added a quickfire 48 with Finn playing some superb shots in his unbeaten 31, provided scant consolation for Middlesex, who for much of the first two days were clear favourites to win this game.
For Warwickshire, bowled out for just 126 at the start of the match, this was a significant victory – especially as they had lost five of their previous eight games.
Bowling out Middlesex for 161 on a helter-skelter opening day kept them in the contest, and then a gritty second innings batting effort on day two took the sting out of Middlesex’s seam attack.
When day three dawned, however, with their lead a seemingly middling 258 on an easing pitch, they could not have dreamed of winning so decisively or so quickly.
It is a result which could yet have ramifications for the ultimate destiny of both sides this season.