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Bailey Creams Middlesex


Gritty innings

By Haringey Racer
September 20 2017

HR reports on the tension a topsy turvy day that included a visit from a Santa look a like.     

Despite oversleeping slightly following a late night editing photos from Tuesday’s Enfield Town FA Cup tie (a 5-0 replay win over Hanwell Town, since you didn’t ask) I arrived at Lord’s in good time to get a coffee and take my usual position behind the arm at the Nursery End. The day started with high clouds and a fresh breeze from the general direction of the Allen Stand. It didn’t take a genius to work out that Middlesex needed to take the last five wickets quickly and cheaply – by all accounts the pitch would only get difficult to bat on as the game progressed.

The task was potentially made harder by the absence of Toby Roland-Jones – word was that he wouldn’t be available to bowl all day, so there was no real point in allowing him to field. Murtagh and Finn opened and carried out the game plan to perfection; in the fifth over, Croft, having already sent a thick edge to the boundary between gully and second slip, slashed hard at a wide one from Murtagh and was well caught by Simpson in front of first slip. Both bowlers were bowling a good line to the extent that the first eight overs of the day cost only ten runs (including two edged fours) for Croft’s wicket. In the next over Clark was surprised by the bounce from Murtagh and feathered a catch behind.

 This brought in Tom Bailey, someone I don’t think I have ever seen bat before. His stance is a thing of wonder; that is I wonder how on earth it can work. We’ve all seen batsmen with open stances but Bailey takes it to the limit. His feet are parallel and point directly towards the opposite wicket. Unlike most such players, who move into something more orthodox to play their strokes, he maintains that position until the ball arrives. The usual defence of such techniques is that ‘it works for me’ but Bailey’s career average of around 18 suggests not in his case.

Ryan McLaren had batted for the first 45 minutes without adding to his overnight total but then decided he needed to get going. He did this in style taking advantage of a tiring Finn for 14 in two overs, while Bailey somehow guided Murtagh through the covers for 4. This brought a double change. Harris replaced Murtagh and his fifth ball moved away from Bailey, who was already in the classic ‘squared-up’ position, and was nicked to Rayner at second slip. That made the score 149-8. Rayner replaced Finn and a single from McLaren brought up the 150.

Kyle Jarvis had replaced Bailey and played an entertaining innings having driven Harris for four, he was within a whisker of being caught and bowled off a leading edge, Harris just failing to reach the ball in his follow through. Next over a drive by McLaren required some very quick evasive action from him; in the over after that he hit a ball very low on the bat causing him to examine the toe very closely while also wringing his bottom hand. McLaren then tried to hit Rayner over Finn at long on but only succeeded in giving a catch. 161-9. There was just time for another edge over the slips from Jarvis before Parkinson was pinned in front of all three stumps by Rayner. 165 all out, giving a very useful Middlesex lead of 68 runs.

The Middlesex reply got off to a flying start with nine runs off the opening over but the bowlers soon found their direction, Compton edging through the slips and gloving one that fell short of slip. It was no real surprise that soon afterwards he edged an outswinger from Bailey through to the keeper. Two balls later Bailey made one lift so sharply that it struck Eskinazi on the top hand. This led to a lengthy delay but at least ensured that it was the final over before lunch, which was taken at 14-1.

Eskinazi went in the second over after the resumption, bowled by a ball from Bailey that moved into him down the slope. Batting was as every bit as tricky as predicted. Another Bailey delivery that kept low and cut in must have missed Robson’s stumps by a whisker. After 12 overs the score had reached 20-2. Malan and Robson kept the score ticking over mixing well-struck boundaries with the occasional scare – not least when Robson tried to hook Clark but could only spoon the ball into the air from where it landed safely for a single.

 Around this time some very heavy cloud was moving inform behind the pavilion and it was no great surprise that the umpires took the players off at 2.15 with the score on 54-2. As the light hadn’t improved an early tea was taken at 2.40 and play resumed at 3.00 with 51.2 overs to be bowled in the final session. As often happens the break brought a wicket, Malan being lbw to McLaren with the first ball of the new session. Voges didn’t last long, caught low down by McLaren at gully off Clark for 5.

 Another bank of cloud forced a break at 94-4; play resumed after the loss of 3 overs and saw Robson bring up his 50 and then, with a deliberate cut over the slips, the team’s 100. Soon after, though, he hooked Bailey and was very well caught by Jarvis, who had come in ten yards or so from the rope and had to dive backwards and to his right to take the catch. Simpson, meanwhile, was scoring freely and had reached 33 when he tried to force Bailey through the offside and was caught by Jarvis, this time at cover. 130-6

James Harris was lbw to a ball that kept very low – I suspect he departed with mixed feelings about that. Ollie Rayner did well to keep out a slower ball from Bailey that looked like a beamer until it dipped to knee height. He and Roland-Jones added 17 until both were out on 147 – Roland-Jones chipping to cover and Rayner lbw in successive overs. Once again Tim Murtagh gave us some brief entertainment; he tried to leave his first ball but somehow lifted it high over the slips for four; he had a huge swipe at his second but missed completely; on his third he picked Bailey’s slower ball in time to check his swish and score a single off the last ball of the over; finally he missed the first two balls of the next over, the second of which was straight. 152 all out, setting a target of 221 in just over two days.

Lancashire’s chase began as another bank of cloud rolled in and soon stopped for bad light after two overs. After 20 minutes or so play resumed and soon afterwards Davies tried to hook Finn, was hit on the body but was able to carry on. Finn did get his man, though, in his next over trapping him lbw with one that cut back from outside off stump. That brought in Liam Livingstone who was immediately troubled by a spectator in front of the sightscreen. The spectator in question had a white beard and was wearing a red coat (which was obviously what was bothering the batsman) leading one wag to ask why Father Christmas was wearing his uniform on his day off. Livingstone got away with one or two wild shots but rather more worryingly for Middlesex, Haseeb Hameed was looking sound in defence while also scoring more freely that for much of this season.

 Yet more cloud brought an early close (albeit at 6.30) with Lancashire on 46-1, needing another 175 to win.

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Bailey Creams Middlesex
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20/09/2017 22:32
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