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Matt Diner, at Lord’s
Friday, May 4, 2012
County Championship Division Two, day two: Middlesex 148-2 v Worcestershire
Middlesex look set to record their second successive draw after bad weather put pay to much of day two at Lord’s.
The whole of day one was lost to rain and bad light and with just 40.3 overs possible today, it will take a major batting collapse or two for a positive result to be forced.
Middlesex can take heart from their most positive batting display of the season so far as they made a brisk 148-2 against what was a limp Worcestershire bowling attack.
Angus Frasers’side have made 250 just once so far in 2012, but look set for 300 plus when play resumes tomorrow.
Openers Andrew Strauss (49) and Sam Robson (59) lead the way, while Joe Denly’s classy unbeaten 34 bodes well for tomorrow.
With ball dominating bat for much of the season so far, it was somewhat of a shock to see Middlesex look so in control against Worcestershire at a cloudy Lord’s.
The visitors won the toss and with overcast conditions, no doubt had little hesitation in electing to field.
It looked to be the right call early on with England captain Andrew Strauss, who has been short of runs of late, starting tentatively, playing and missing on numerous occasions off the bowling of Alan Richardson.
Early season Lord’s is always going to be a fruitful time for Richardson’s accurate right arm wobblers and one such delivery proved too tempting for the out of form England captain.
Playing a delivery he need not have, away from his body, Strauss edged a simple catch to Australian import Michael Klinger at third slip.
Despite the ball arriving without great pace and at a comfortable height, the opener somehow let the ball fall through his hands and onto the turf.
Strauss was lucky not to tickle a David Lucas delivery behind the next over, however a boundary in the ninth over off Richardson seemed to break the shackles.
The visitors were guilty of bowling too short and too wide, with the odd leg stump half-volley thrown in for good measure.
Strauss and Robson cashed in and hit 64 runs in 11 overs, with the England skipper not missing any opportunity to punish the bad balls.
A short and wide Richard Jones delivery was cut beautifully for four, before a few balls later he dispatched a full wide one to the fence.
Richardson was next in the firing line as his slow half tracker was pulled over deep square leg for the first maximum of the match, before Strauss moved to 47, cutting a Jones delivery through point for four.
Due to the cold conditions there was little swing. However, Aneesh Kapil replaced Jones in the 21st over and in his second delivery managed to dart one back into Strauss to trap him plumb lbw for 49.
Sadly the clouds gathered and the umpires took the players off for bad light at 12.30pm.
Three hours were lost, but when they did return the home side again took advantage of some distinctly average bowling.
Kapil followed up a floaty full toss with a half volley, giving new batsman Joe Denly the gentlest of starts to his innings.
Robson cut Richardson to the boundary then drove him through the covers the very next ball.
The Australian reached his 50 off just 62 deliveries, but after just 5.1 overs could be bowled darkness once again forced the players off, leaving the hosts 115-1.
When play resumed 15 minutes later Worcestershire made the breakthrough as Robson went for 59, optimistically driving off the back foot and edging to Klinger off the bowling of Richardson.
Denly however was not perturbed and in the 34th over drove Lucas for four towards the pavilion, before hitting the same bowler for another boundary with a well-timed back foot punch to end the day unbeaten on 34, with captain Chris Rogers not out three.