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Play it Again Sam

Few braved the wind

By Haringey Racer
September 20 2018

I arrived at Lord’s under heavy skies, ion time for a leisurely cup of coffee before the start of play. As it turned out I could have taken it much more leisurely. At 10.25 the hover cover was removed from the pitch, at 10.27 the few spots of drizzle in the air turned into full-out rain, and the groundstaff made a hasty u-turn with the cover. It quickly became clear that this would not be a brief interruption as the rain became heavier and more covers were applied to the square and the bowlers’ run ups. The rain cleared after an hour or so and a 12.00 resumption was announced, with lunch moved to 1.00 and tea 3.40. 

Derbyshire resumed on 222 for 6 after, presumably, a restless night for their more superstitious players and supporters. Matt Critchley was on 87 not out, probably far enough away from three figures not to be worried overnight. Ten overs remained until the new ball became available and 51 runs were needed to avoid the possibility of being asked to follow on. 

Play began under floodlights, the wind being much less than its peak of the previous two days. Fuller opened from the Nursery End and, in an eventful over, saw Critchley edge just short of slip and score ten runs including two identical clips through mid-wicket for 4. That took him to 97; two singles off Harris took him to 99 and he pushed the first ball of Fuller’s next over through point to reach three figures before any nerves had a chance to build up. At the end of Harris’s next over, however, he tried to hook and top edged (or possibly gloved – I haven’t looked at the replay) a catch to Eskinazi, comfortably taken above his head. 243 for 7. 

Andersson replaced Fuller after two expensive overs, then Dal left a ball from Harris that cut back perilously close to his off stump before he edged to Robson at first slip via the hands of Eskinazi at second. 246 for 8 and the new ball still four overs away. Viljoen brought up the 250 with a cut for four off Andersson, the played and missed at the next delivery. 

At this point my notes simply say ‘windy’: the wind was starting to gust a bit more strongly. Viljoen edged Harris through point while aiming on the onside, Palladino gloved a lifter to safety next ball then fell lbw the ball after that, to one that nipped back and may also have kept a touch low. 252 for 9, and Middlesex’s first haul of maximum bonus points since I don’t know when – probably sometime in the Championship season (remember that?). 

Last man Ferguson quickly showed that he had no intention of nudging and nurdling towards the floor on target. He lifted Andersson into the Grand Stand for six immediately after a massive play-and-miss, then came very close to being run out taking a sharp single – a direct hit would have been out (from my perfect view behind the arm). Viljoen was taking the same approach, a play-and-miss being followed by a pull for four. 

After the eightieth over Murtagh came on at the Nursery End and the old ball was sent off the field with the twelfth man. Murtagh then decided he wanted a couple of looseners before taking the new ball and after a bout of arm waving from the umpires the sub got the message and returned the old ball. The new ball was eventually taken for the third delivery and Ferguson promptly saved the follow on by lofting the fourth a long way over long on for another six. Viljoen joined in the merriment by driving Harris for three fours in the next over and then clipping Murtagh from somewhere around middle stump, through square leg for yet another, before being bowled heaving across the line. That gave Middlesex a lead of 128 runs and lunch was taken about eight minutes early. 

As in the first innings, Robson dominated the early scoring. After 10 overs the score had reached 46 without loss of which Robson’s share was 30. By now the sun had come out and the lights were switched off but not retracted. Robson had to be quick to regain his ground as a Gubbins drive was deflected into the stumps, then brought the 50 up with an edge wide of the slips. 

The score had reached 58 when Gubbins tried to glance a ball from Ferguson down the leg side. I had the binoculars on the stroke and noticed the bails fall off as he played it. While several of the fielders were appealing for a catch at the wicket, Madsen, from slip, was pointing at the stumps. Square leg umpire Debenham ruled that they had been disturbed by Gubbins’ foot, not by a gust of wind. I’ve seen a few batsmen out hit wicket in my time but this was the first time I’ve actually seen the bails fall. Around this time the floodlights were retracted, presumably due to an increase in windspeed. 

Eskinazi then edged a ball just past his stumps before he played a strange shot for four. A late adjustment as the ball kept a bit low turned it into something that resembled a pull or a pick up without fully meriting either description. It was becoming clear that Eskinazi, in particular, was looking to increase the scoring rate but after a sweep for 4 (just evading Madsen who had run from slip as he saw the shot being lined up) he tried to come down the pitch to Critchley who pushed the ball wide to give Hosein an easy stumping and the first dismissal in the game by a keeper. 89 for 2. Between those two incidents, Robson reached his 50 (from 60 balls). The impression of urgency was confirmed when Malan played two unsuccessful reverse sweeps in his first three balls. The hundred came up in the 27 the over. 

Viljoen then produced a Harmisonesque wide, pitching on the return crease and being fielded by Wilson at second slip. Malan then lofted Critchley for six, Robson edged just short of slip (when the team total was 111) then clipped Viljoen through mid-wicket to take his match total past 200. Next over, Malan swept Critchley and the ball rebounded from Wilson at short leg to Hughes at leg gully. Malan stood his ground, thinking the ball had hit the ground before it hit Wilson but after a consultation the umpires gave him out and he had to go, although he still took his time leaving and the umpires were seen to be making notes. I suspect we (and he) haven’t heard the last of the matter. That was 126 for 4. 

Madsen came on to bowl the final over before tea (and to attend to an over rate that stood at -2) and his second ball produced a run out. Holden lifted the ball fractionally over the outstretched had of cover, Robson set off for a run, was quite reasonably sent back and was out by a distance. 126 for 2 had become 127 for 4 at the interval. 

After tea the light had got much worse but the floodlights remained retracted due to the wind, which was now gusting very strongly indeed. Fuller joined Holden at the crease but didn’t really try anything outrageous, treating the legspin of Critchley with extreme caution. Holden, on the other hand was quite happy to deposit Madsen into the Grand Stand. Fuller hit a Critchley full toss straight back past the bowler; Palladino at long on completely failing to see the ball. Holden was then bowled trying to cut a ball from Madsen that may have gone with the arm or may just have failed to turn. His replacement Robbie White avoided a king pair then swept for two and cut for four. At the end of the over the umpires took the first of several light readings. 

White then fell, caught at slip for seven, to a perfectly pitched leg break from Critchley who then had Fuller caught at point cutting at a wide ball that really didn’t deserve a wicket. 171 for7. 

With the over rate now restored to +1, Ferguson replaced Madsen and soon had Andersson in a bit of bother, ducking into one leg-stump bouncer then fending the next ball from in front of his face. Andersson and Harris took the score to 199 for 7, including a lofted drive and a reverse sweep for four by Andersson off Critchley, before bad light brought proceedings to a halt at around 5pm. By 5.30 the light had reached the point that even with the floodlights it would almost certainly have been too dark to resume and I joined the masses headed for an early exit.  

The lead is now 327 and with 96 overs theoretically available will we declare? I’d like to think we’d be bold, but I suspect we’ll throw the bat for the remainder of the innings.

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Play it again Sam
Middlesex till we die (IP Logged)
20/09/2018 21:23
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:09:23:17:51:46 by BarmierKev.

Re: Play it again Sam
Haringey Racer (IP Logged)
21/09/2018 07:32
Floor on target? How did I manage to type that?

Re: Play it again Sam
Primrose Hillbilly (IP Logged)
21/09/2018 09:32
Superb report, HR.

Thank you. Eat your heart out Dead Tree Press, and Cricinfo too.

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