Middlesex clinch Second Division title
Middlesex 502 and 127 for 5 beat Leicestershire 319 and 306 by five wickets
Middlesex clinched the Second Division title with a five-wicket win over rock-bottom Leicestershire at Grace Road. They made heavy weather of chasing down a victory target of 124, slumping to 90 for 5 after losing five wickets for 33 runs in an 11-over spell, but wicketkeeper John Simpson and all-rounder Gareth Berg finally saw them home with a flurry of boundaries.
Simpson hit six fours in his unbeaten 27 and Berg crashed two sixes and a four in a quickfire 19. It gave Middlesex their eighth win of the season and they will be back in Division One for the first time since being relegated in 2006.
Middlesex had started the final day looking for a quick victory with Leicestershire on 222 for 7, leading by just 37 runs. But it took them 22.2 overs to claim the last three wickets, with Leicestershire adding another 84 runs.
From the moment Ned Eckersley hit the first ball of the day from Ollie Rayner to the boundary, Leicestershire showed they were not going to make things easy for Middlesex. Eckersley and Jigar Naik shared a stand of 38 for the eighth wicket before Corey Collymore had Naik lbw.
Nathan Buck then joined Eckersley in a ninth-wicket stand of 44 to further frustrate Middlesex. Eckersley reached his second half-century of the game off 98 balls with a six and four fours before holing out to long-off as he tried another big hit against Rayner. Buck was last man out, edging Steven Crook to first slip, and Leicestershire's total of 306 left Middlesex the modest target of 124.
They looked in no trouble when Andrew Strauss and Sam Robson put on 44 runs in seven overs before lunch but then a nervy collapse began soon after the interval. Robson was trapped lbw by Naik with the total at 57 and when Strauss was caught behind off Wayne White for 30, the nerves really kicked in.
Dawid Malan was run out without scoring and White picked up two more wickets, having Jamie Dalrymple lbw and Chris Rogers caught at point as Middlesex slumped to 90 for 5. But Simpson and Berg suddenly cut loose in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand to enable the celebrations to start.
White finished with an impressive 3 for 36 while Naik, who claimed 1 for 52, has been rewarded for an impressive season with a new two-year deal by Leicestershire, who fly out tomorrow to Hyderabad for the T20 Champions League competition in India.