Specsavers County Championship - 07 July 2019
Middlesex won by 78 runs
Venue: Merchant Taylor's
Gloucestershire v Middlesex
Tim Murtagh grabbed his fourth five-wicket haul in the County Championship this season as Middlesex bowled Gloucestershire out for 137 to clinch victory inside three days at Merchant Taylors’ School.
Chasing 216, Gloucestershire lost three early wickets to the veteran seamer (5-44), who then returned to break a stubborn eighth-wicket partnership and secure only his side’s second Championship win of the campaign.
In between Murtagh’s spells, Tom Helm and Toby Roland-Jones – who had earlier dragged their side out of the mire with their partnership of 99 – took wickets in the middle order as Gloucestershire reached 40-7.
Graeme van Buuren defied the home side with a feisty unbeaten half-century, his first of the season, but Roland-Jones finished Gloucestershire off, recording match figures of 10-79 to seal victory by 78 runs.
Resuming their second innings at 96-3, Middlesex’s prospects of victory appeared to have taken an immediate blow as Dawid Malan (8) departed to the first ball of the day, a rising delivery from Josh Shaw that brushed his glove and flew through to Gareth Roderick.
The ball continued to fizz off the surface, making it hard work for the batsmen and George Scott (22) took a nasty blow on the hand when another Shaw delivery spat.
Scott eventually fell to Chad Sayers, with Benny Howell snapping up the slip catch after James Bracey had palmed it up, and Ryan Higgins (4-35) completed his best figures of the season by having Robbie White (10) caught behind.
When David Payne trapped John Simpson (10) lbw, Middlesex were deep in trouble at 124-7, with an overall lead of just 95.
But Roland-Jones (51 not out) and Helm (46) turned the tide as they set a Middlesex record for the eighth wicket against Gloucestershire.
Payne took the new ball and struck almost immediately by having Helm caught in the slips, just after Roland-Jones had reached his first Championship half-century since September 2017.
He remained unbeaten as Sayers (3-60) cleaned up the Middlesex innings for 244 with the wickets of Nathan Sowter (5) and Murtagh (9), leaving the visitors to chase 216 for victory.
They made the worst possible start, though, as Murtagh removed skipper Chris Dent, caught at third slip, with the first ball of the innings.
The Ireland international struck again twice before tea, overtaking Wayne Daniel in the all-time list of Middlesex’s most prolific bowlers as he dismissed Bracey (15), who was leg before without playing a shot.
Miles Hammond (16), who had survived an earlier lbw appeal, was next to go as he edged to Stevie Eskinazi in the slips – and Gloucestershire’s dramatic slide continued to gather pace after the interval.
Wicketkeeper Simpson sprang to his right to remove Roderick (4) off Helm, who claimed his second victim when Ben Charlesworth (2) edged to third slip, while Howell (1) and Higgins (2) both fell to Roland-Jones.
Payne (16) helped Van Buuren (57no) to add 51 for the eighth wicket, but Murtagh returned to uproot his leg stump and then had Shaw (0) caught behind before Roland-Jones rounded off his side’s success.
Ryan Higgins produced crucial contributions with bat and ball to leave Gloucestershire ahead of the game at stumps on day two.
Roland-Jones turned back the clock to claim 7-52 as Gloucestershire were bowled out for 201, a score bolstered by Higgins’ combative 61 not out.
HALF-CENTURY!!!— Gloucestershire Cricket🏏 (@Gloscricket) July 8, 2019
Ryan Higgins continues his incredible form with the bat and notches another half-century for The Shire 🏏
He currently has 57 runs with 7 fours to add to his three wickets in the match 💪🏻#GoGlos 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/3qWGjUTRz0
And the all-rounder, who left the Lord’s tenants at the end of the 2017 season then took 3-16 to reduce the hosts to 96-3 in their second innings, a lead of just 67.
It had been almost three years since Roland-Jones had taken five wickets in an innings – the last occasion being the Seaxes famous last-day of the season championship-clinching win over Yorkshire.
A Test call-up followed those heroics and at the end of the 2017 season, the right-arm seamer was on the verge of an Ashes call-up – a dream ruined when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back.
A winter’s rehab appeared to have done the trick only for him to break down again in just the second game of the 2018 campaign, so missing the rest of the season.
He returned at the start of this season, but the early signs hadn’t been good – just five wickets at 101-apiece.
Sending Gloucestershire skipper Chris Dent’s off-stump cartwheeling backwards was the perfect fillip for a fast bowler in need of a change of fortune. As it turned out it was only the start.
The fourth ball of his next over saw Ben Charlesworth nick one into the hands of Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan at slip and Benny Howell, so often the scourge of the hosts, lasted just two balls before he edged another to the gloves of John Simpson.
Tim Murtagh, back in Middlesex colours after his international stint with Ireland, then removed the obdurate Gareth Roderick (40) LBW to make lunch that bit more indigestible for Dent’s side.
Roland-Jones wasn't out of the action for long, returning early in the afternoon to have Graeme van Buuren brilliantly taken at first slip by Eskinazi, two-handed just millimetres from the floor.
When Tom Helm had David Payne caught at slip by Malan, Gloucestershire were still 27 in arrears, but Higgins struck six boundaries en route to an excellent fifty.
Josh Shaw proved a great ally in a ninth-wicket stand of 43, before Roland-Jones trapped him LBW to secure the amendment to his career stats.
By the time last man Chadd Sayers fell to Nathan Sowter for a duck, Higgins had secured a batting point – and he hadn’t finished haunting his former employers.
When the hosts began their second dig immediately after tea, Sam Robson and Eskinazi survived a testing period of playing and missing to wipe out the arrears with an opening stand of 53.
Higgins though took ball in hand to break the stand, finding the edge of Robson’s bat for Miles Hammond to snaffle the catch at slip.
One brought two as Higgins struck again soon afterwards, Eskinazi getting a thin edge through to wicketkeeper Roderick who was standing up to the stumps.
And when Higgins bowled Gubbins in his next over Middlesex were back in trouble just 44 ahead.
Malan and George Scott dug in before fading light drove the players off seven overs early. An intriguing day three awaits.
The Gloucestershire bowlers put in a terrific performance on the first day at Merchant Taylor's school. Josh Shaw returned his best figures of the season as Gloucestershire gained the upper hand by bowling Middlesex out on the opening day of their County Championship clash.
The 23-year-old paceman finished with 4-33 as the home side were dismissed for just 172, with former Middlesex all-rounder Ryan Higgins taking 3-52.
With cloud cover and an outfield moistened by overnight rain, it was unsurprising that Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent spurned the opportunity of a coin toss.
After a 15-minute delay while the surface continued to dry out, the home side made steady progress, passing 50 for only the loss of Stevie Eskinazi (9), leg before to Chadd Sayers (2-34).
Initially, it was the outfield that appeared to cause the most problems for Middlesex, with Sam Robson sauntering down the pitch after hitting what looked a certain boundary – then belatedly running a quick two when the ball stuck in the grass.
Even after Sam Robson (23) nibbled at a widish delivery from Shaw and was caught behind, Nick Gubbins (26) and Dawid Malan (28) saw their side through to lunch without any further alarms.
Malan settled down to play his shots, the pick of them a crisp cover drive off Shaw, but he then attempted to pull him through the leg side and sent a top edge ballooning into the hands of mid-on.
Four balls later, Shaw moved one away from Gubbins to take the edge – and the tone of the innings shifted as wickets began to tumble.
Higgins inflicted some serious damage on his former county, having Robbie White (9) caught behind and pinning Tom Helm (4) lbw before Nathan Sowter (3) played on.
John Simpson (27) gave Higgins the charge, pulling him for four and then lifting two fuller-length deliveries over the top with the same outcome.
But Simpson’s miscued shot off Shaw brought the Middlesex innings to a close, with the bowler racing towards square leg to take a skier and register his fourth wicket.
That left Gloucestershire to negotiate 19 overs and Dent (27 not out) and Miles Hammond made a solid start by scoring 31 from the first eight.
Dent then cut Roland-Jones’ first ball to the boundary – but the third left Hammond (21) and took the edge for Malan to scoop up the chance at second slip.
James Bracey lasted just four deliveries and failed to score as he fell to Roland-Jones in similar fashion, with Eskinazi taking the catch this time.
Gloucestershire elected to bowl.
Sam Robson | Stephen Eskinazi | Nicholas Gubbins | Dawid Malan | George Scott | Robert White | John Simpson | Tobias Roland-Jones | Thomas Helm | Nathan Sowter | Ethan Bamber | Tim Murtagh |
Miles Hammond | Christopher Dent | James Bracey | Gareth Roderick | Ben Charlesworth | Benny Howell | Ryan Higgins | Graeme van Buuren | David Payne | Joshua Shaw | Chadd Sayers |
|Middlesex win by 78 runs||Middlesex second innings|
244 all out
|Gloucestershire second innings|
137 all out
|Middlesex First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Sam Robson||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Josh Shaw||23||73||47||3||0|
|Stevie Eskinazi||L.B.W. Chadd Sayers||9||33||25||2||0|
|Nick Gubbins||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Josh Shaw||26||137||104||4||0|
|Dawid Malan||Caught Graeme van Buuren Bowled Josh Shaw||28||92||68||4||0|
|George Scott||L.B.W. David Payne||12||37||29||0||0|
|Robbie White||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Ryan Higgins||9||46||30||0||0|
|John Simpson||Caught and Bowled Josh Shaw||27||111||72||3||0|
|Toby Roland-Jones||Caught James Bracey Bowled Chadd Sayers||1||30||20||0||0|
|Tom Helm||L.B.W. Ryan Higgins||4||13||8||1||0|
|Nathan Sowter||Bowled Ryan Higgins||3||19||18||0||0|
|Ethan Bamber||Not Out||4||33||27||0||0|
|Extras||11b 11lb 4nb 0p 0w||26|
Fall of wickets
|Gloucestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Miles Hammond||Caught Dawid Malan Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||21||33||35||2||0|
|Chris Dent||Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||38||150||109||6||0|
|James Bracey||Caught Stevie Eskinazi Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||0||8||4||0||0|
|Gareth Roderick||L.B.W. Tim Murtagh||40||148||101||6||0|
|Ben Charlesworth||Caught Dawid Malan Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||1||10||9||0||0|
|Benny Howell||Caught John Simpson Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||0||2||2||0||0|
|Ryan Higgins||Not Out||61||143||97||8||0|
|Graeme van Buuren||Caught Stevie Eskinazi Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||12||37||29||2||0|
|David Payne||Caught Dawid Malan Bowled Tom Helm||4||15||12||1||0|
|Josh Shaw||L.B.W. Toby Roland-Jones||14||48||37||1||0|
|Chadd Sayers||L.B.W. Nathan Sowter||0||10||7||0||0|
|Extras||4b 4lb 2nb 0p 0w||10|
Fall of wickets
|Middlesex Second Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Stevie Eskinazi||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Ryan Higgins||37||93||60||6||0|
|Sam Robson||Caught Miles Hammond Bowled Ryan Higgins||22||67||56||3||0|
|Nick Gubbins||Bowled Ryan Higgins||10||36||24||0||0|
|Dawid Malan||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Josh Shaw||8||56||30||0||0|
|George Scott||Caught Benny Howell Bowled Chadd Sayers||22||69||48||3||0|
|Robbie White||Caught Gareth Roderick Bowled Ryan Higgins||10||53||45||1||0|
|John Simpson||L.B.W. David Payne||10||36||24||1||0|
|Toby Roland-Jones||Not Out||51||155||111||7||0|
|Tom Helm||Caught Miles Hammond Bowled David Payne||46||125||95||6||0|
|Nathan Sowter||Caught Josh Shaw Bowled Chadd Sayers||5||12||10||1||0|
|Tim Murtagh||Caught Josh Shaw Bowled Chadd Sayers||9||10||10||1||0|
|Extras||5b 9lb 0nb 0p 0w||14|
Fall of wickets
|Graeme van Buuren||5||1||11||0|
|Gloucestershire Second Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Chris Dent||Caught Sam Robson Bowled Tim Murtagh||0||1||1||0||0|
|Miles Hammond||Caught Stevie Eskinazi Bowled Tim Murtagh||16||45||34||1||0|
|James Bracey||L.B.W. Tim Murtagh||15||25||23||2||0|
|Gareth Roderick||Caught John Simpson Bowled Tom Helm||5||22||10||0||0|
|Ben Charlesworth||Caught Sam Robson Bowled Tom Helm||2||23||14||0||0|
|Benny Howell||Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||1||11||6||0||0|
|Ryan Higgins||Caught Dawid Malan Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||0||3||4||0||0|
|Graeme van Buuren||Not Out||57||121||71||9||0|
|David Payne||Bowled Tim Murtagh||16||53||41||1||0|
|Josh Shaw||Caught John Simpson Bowled Tim Murtagh||0||5||5||0||0|
|Chadd Sayers||Bowled Toby Roland-Jones||19||55||58||0||0|
|Extras||0b 6lb 0nb 0p 0w||6|
Fall of wickets