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April 16, 2011
Middlesex 54 for 2 and 277 beat Essex 215 and 115 by eight wickets
With the hard work done on the second day Middlesex enjoyed the first sighting of sunshine at Lord's this Championship summer, needing just over 40 minutes to seal victory over Essex.
20 Essex wickets fell the previous day to leave Middlesex needing just 54 for victory and despite a second failure in the game for captain Neil Dexter they reached their target inside 11 overs. With everyone chasing a Saturday off in the sunshine Scott Newman hurried the victory with seven boundaries in his unbeaten 38.
The day before Newman had been goading Ravi Bopara on Twitter after Bopara had taken to the internet to vent his frustration about the Tiflex ball - which is used in Division Two and has a reputation for prodigious swing - and state of the pitch. Newman response was clear: "Dry your eyes, big lad. No feet movement and loose shots is a recipe for nicking off."
James Foster, the Essex captain, was not quite as resolute as Newman but dismissed any complaints about the ball for his side's second defeat in as many games.
"It's the same for both sides," he told ESPNcricinfo. "It's early season, the ball is going to swing a bit because of the conditions, it's going to nibble a bit because of the pitches. It's early April, it's always happened. I'm not sure if it's the ball, that's just what it's been like for the last x amount of years I've been involved in cricket. We haven't performed well enough, it's as simple as that."
One man who certainly wasn't complaining about the ball was Steven Finn. He is looking to push his case for an England recall after losing out during the Ashes and though he only took five in the match the quality of his bowling, and his scalps - Bopara in both innings and Alastair Cook second time round - put down an ideal marker to start his season.
"I've had my ups and downs over the last year but I'm developing all the time, he said. "There are still areas of inconsistency I need to work on and get better at though.
"I feel like I've become a better bowler over the last year, I'm learning to swing the ball more and getting it to move away from the right-handers but consistency is the most important thing. It doesn't matter if your bowling with an apple or a cricket ball, you still have to put the ball in the right area and let the rest happen. We went out there looking to enjoy ourselves and if we keep doing that results will come."
Middlesex will hope England don't come calling because with Finn at the helm they could be a formidable attack in Division Two.
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