Tim Murtagh presents Lord’s prayer as Middlesex batting leaves them fearing the drop once more

Warwickshire 72 for 4 (Rhodes 36*, Murtagh 3-17) path Middlesex 121 (De Caires 40, Hannon-Dalby 5-29) by 49 runs

There’s an opportunity that Tim Murtagh was feeling quite sheepish when, shortly after 4pm, he stepped out of the pavilion as Middlesex’s No.11 to witness – within the center distance, and on essentially the most central and prestigious strip that Lord’s has to supply – a guard of honour lined as much as mark his impending retirement.

The gesture was touching, as was the roar of approval when he blocked his one and solely supply from Chris Rushworth straight again down the pitch, however the timing was a contact discombobulating. After all, at 100 for 9 on the primary day of Middlesex’s – and subsequently, doubtlessly, Murtagh’s – penultimate match of the season, it wasn’t as if the prospect of a later, and extra terminal, go to to the crease was off the desk simply but.

And apart from, there was one thing about Middlesex’s distracted show as much as that time – even by the requirements of their flatlining season – that had reeked already of “benefit match”. Murtagh’s inclusion, for his 264th first-class look and his 91st at Lord’s, had come on the expense of the membership captain Toby Roland-Jones, and so (aside from anything) had additional weakened one of the crucial brittle batting line-ups within the land. On the face of it, it appeared an odd second to disregard the realities of their ongoing race to the underside with Kent.

Warwickshire’s Oliver Hannon-Dalby duly reminded them what was at stake with a route-one haul of 5 for 29 in 10.5 overs: every of his first 4 wickets was the reward for a touch of motion on a probing off-stump line, till Josh De Caires, counterattacking gamely at No.7 for an enterprising 40 from 58 balls, clipped him low to midwicket to go away Murtagh excessive and dry on 0 (1). All out for 121 then, with an uptick of zero batting factors to Middlesex’s survival bid.

But with Kent’s personal bonus-point quest being stymied by Tom Lammonby and Lewis Goldsworthy down at Taunton, up stepped Murtagh for his major occasion, and for the penultimate time on his favorite stage. Seven overs and three wickets later, he’d proven as soon as once more that – in bleak autumnal situations and in your county’s hour of want – typically a timeless show of ball-on-a-string seam bowling is all a crew must get again on a good keel.

Murtagh is 42 years previous now, and has successfully been a Lord’s specialist this season, with 5 of his six Championship appearances now coming at HQ. But what a specialist, and the way efficient! His ten-wicket haul towards Kent in April stays the important thing purpose why Middlesex aren’t (fairly) within the relegation positions, and on this proof – although Warwickshire closed the day with a level of poise by Will Rhodes’ 36 not out – it isn’t out of the query that Murtagh finally ends up accounting for half of Middlesex’s 4 Championship wins on this marketing campaign. There’ve been 14 wickets on this primary day, in any case. Even permitting for a two-hour rain delay, it is laborious to see this one ending as a draw.

Murtagh wanted a solitary supply to sow these acquainted seeds of doubt, as Rob Yates flinched outdoors off to a typical supply that was there to be hit till it was not. His subsequent providing was extra inviting nonetheless, swinging throughout the left-hander and gathering form because it did so, to induce an unsure flat-footed lower and a fats inside-edge into his stumps – Warwickshire had been 0 for 1 after two balls, and the sport was unquestionably afoot.

Three overs later, with only one run chiselled from his choices, Murtagh struck once more, courtesy of an excellent diving take from John Simpson, flinging himself low to his proper to scoop up a snick off Kraigg Braithwaite that was by no means destined to achieve the cordon. Alex Davies then flapped his second ball over the cordon for 4 as Murtagh hit the seam and located extravagant bounce outdoors off; that shot was virtually actually on his thoughts six balls later, as he stabbed a fats entrance pad down the road to be pinned for the plumbest lbw possible.

Even when his spell was accomplished, Murtagh’s impression was arguably nonetheless obvious. Ethan Bamber changed him on the Nursery End, and duly struck along with his second ball – from around the wicket, with a contact extra tempo behind his nip off the seam, to crash previous Dan Mousley’s defences and into his off stump. At 42 for 4, the competition was correctly within the steadiness, however Rhodes and Ed Barnard quelled the menace as the sunshine light, to go away rather more of the identical required on Wednesday – at Lord’s and at Taunton – if Middlesex are to maintain their hopes alive.

If, nevertheless, the worst does come to cross for the membership, then there’s actually no escaping the place the fault will lie. Another sickly batting card has left them counting on a soon-to-be-retired stalwart for another bail-out, and even that’s unlikely to be sufficient if the second innings serves up a equally passive show.

Warwickshire gained the toss and the wickets had been rapidly handed round, not in contrast to a pet at a main college – delicate and moreish. Rushworth struck the primary blow, snicking Stoneman’s edge for 13, one ball after he’d induced an almighty waft outdoors off. Hannon-Dalby bagged the second, as Sam Robson planted his entrance foot on off stump and was stunned by a touch of nip again into his pads. Craig Miles then got here around the wicket to unroot Jack Davies’ off stump, earlier than Ed Barnard struck one over later, condemning Ryan Higgins’ personal stump to an analogous destiny.

Barnard then made it two in 4 overs as John Simpson wafted right into a flimsy cramped lower and feathered an edge by to Michael Burgess for a duck, as Middlesex limped to lunch, five-down and freefalling.

And as soon as the afternoon rain had abated, it was over to Hannon-Dalby, flapping his limbs like a latter-day Bob Willis as he cantered in from the Nursery End, hounding a succession of strategies with high-kicking, stump-threatening line and size. Only De Caires, within the midst of a fantastic late-season flurry with bat and ball, discovered the gumption to withstand, with a deft scoop over the keeper amongst his 5 fours, and a flat slam into the Grandstand for six for good measure. But Murtagh apart, not too a lot of his team-mates have but discovered the combat to match their crew’s wants.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

Source web site: www.espncricinfo.com

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