Middlesex v Surrey, Lord's, 4th day

Surrey slate Lord's pitch after narrow derby defeat

Alex Winter at Lord's

April 15, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Middlesex 256 and 106 (Lewis 5-41) beat Surrey 222 and 137 (Roland-Jones 4-25) by three runs

Toby Roland-Jones appeals, Glamorgan v Middlesex, County Championship, Division Two, Cardiff, August 18, 2010
Toby Roland-Jones took four wickets in the second innings © Getty Images

Surrey once again departed Lord's glum-faced after another defeat. Their record is miserable over the Thames - one win in their last 18 visits. They turned on the wicket as the primary cause of this loss: a soft pitch, perhaps underprepared after poor weather in the days before the match, which created havoc for the 76 overs the final two innings lasted.

Chris Adams, Surrey's team director, described it as the worst pitch he had ever seen at Lord's. Surrey, in pursuit of 141, lost 6 for 36 to fail by three runs - Surrey's narrowest margin of defeat to their neighbours.

Victory here was envisaged as part of their early-season run to confirm them as many people's outside tip for the title. Sussex, Middlesex and Worcestershire - with two of those games at The Oval - are the three opponents many would pick out for early-season points. But they were left stunned by their final morning collapse.

"It was one of the worst wickets I've played on," Surrey's captain Rory Hamilton-Brown said. "It went up and down, the seam movement was so exaggerated, people were getting hit and two first-class sides scored not many more than a hundred. It made for a battle out there."

Hamilton-Brown is grateful for a quick return to The Oval next week where Surrey should bounce back against Worcestershire. But his victorious Middlesex counterpart did not see the surface as a hindrance to playing good cricket.

"It was one of those wickets you knew there was something in it all game," Neil Dexter said. "The pitch lasted almost the four days so to be playing on that wicket early season I don't think was too bad. The way they got out this morning had nothing to do with the wicket, it was the shots and some good bowling."

The victory song in the home dressing room wasn't quite Jackie Wilson Said by Dexy's Midnight Runners but Middlesex's "Dexy" - of no pop music fame - was certainly declaring: "I'm in heaven, I'm in heaven" after a miraculous victory.

The celebrations probably sent the MCC secretary straight to his inkwell. Tim Murtagh has a history of wild abandon after sealing big wins - once whipping off his shirt to acclaim his success in a T20 quarter-final bowlout for Surrey against Warwickshire at The Oval. Here his fourth wicket sparked a 50-yard sprint towards the Tavern, creating a heap of elated Middlesex bodies on the Lord's turf.

"I think I've been watching too much football recently, but that's one of the best feelings I've ever had on a cricket field," said Murtagh, a Liverpool supporter, of what he described as his best win for Middlesex. "It would have been a great shame to lose two games having played decent cricket in both. We have had two collapses in both games but we've showed unbelievable fighting spirit."

Middlesex would have begun to move a little uneasily with consecutive defeats and a powerful Durham side arriving next week. This victory is an early fillip for their survival hopes. And they have Andrew Strauss and Steven Finn against Durham, causing a selection headache. Dexter said he will feel bad leaving out players who have done little wrong.

None of the bowlers deserved to be dropped. On the final morning, Gareth Berg took two wickets; Tim Murtagh bowled Chris Jordan and took the final wicket; Toby Roland-Jones removed Tim Linley caught at slip and had Hamilton-Brown caught behind.

Hamilton-Brown sought to blast his way through the dangers of a seaming ball and varying bounce. His 49-ball half-century was the most aggressive innings of the match. But he watched Tom Maynard, for the addition of three, and Gareth Batty, for a duck, depart as the task of 46 more runs lurched from the formality it was proving the previous evening to a stern examination of technique and guts. Had bad light not intervened on Saturday evening, Surrey may well have claimed the extra half hour that would have allowed Hamilton-Brown and Maynard, both free scoring, to knock off the runs.

The small chase was created by Jon Lewis' five wickets the previous afternoon - the spell of the match. His 17-ball 21 looked to be the late-order innings Surrey needed but he could only look to the heavens as Hamilton-Brown edged Roland-Jones, who was excellent from the Pavilion End, to the wicketkeeper John Simpson. Lewis was then too trusting of Nos. 10 and 11; leaving Linley the entire 38th over to face from Roland-Jones. He nicked the fifth ball to slip. Lewis then offered Jade Dernbach the chance of five balls from Tim Murtagh. A straight-drive gone wrong skied the winning catch to Sam Robson at cover.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by my.favourite.stroke.is.the.block on (April 16, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

I watched the final day of the match from the Long Room. Middlesex bowlers were excellent - there was only one four-ball and very few that new batsmen could leave. Dernbach was trying to be a hero with his final stroke. He should be ashamed.

Posted by allblue on (April 16, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer Well I suppose that working on the basis of 'the winners can laugh, the losers can make their own arrangements' that could be said. However, Dex could do with some of the runs RHB is getting, because his poor form with the bat from the end of last season has carried over into this, and with Morgan returning soon and looking for a place in the middle order there will be some tricky selection issues to address. @maximum6 The latter, clearly. However, in the bigger picture, the ECB has played its hand really badly, first with the IPL and now with the Champions League. The English summer is the ideal time for such a tournament, because no-one else is playing at that time of year. Instead of which, as you say, our First Class competition is being distorted to allow two teams to enter what is let's face it, a rigged tournament. The ECB needs to be a bit cleverer in the face of the BCCI/ICC nexus.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 16, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

Well, maximum, they turned up. Just not ready to play... I'm a neutral here, but I have seen comments from Surrey fans who were not best pleased. If players want to go public they should look the part and if they want to enjoy themselves, do it in private.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (April 16, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

@ allblue- Is it really the ECB who decide April is late enough to start the season or is it the case that ICC/BCCI decide to plonk the Champions trophy( a spurious and unnecessary diversion) into the slot where the climax of our season should be. Is it really right that we have already had 2 rounds of championship cricket? For myself I think they should be holding the first round this week. Further I think our season is an organised mess, start to finish. @ Stargazer- as a Surrey fan i do not give a monkeys how our players spend their evenings, so long as they rock up at the next appointed time fit and ready. Men should be allowed to enjoy themselves without puritannical censure.

Posted by alaithiran on (April 16, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

A small point, but 'Jackie Wilson Said' is by Van Morrison. The Dexy's Midnight Runners version is a cover.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 16, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Well, Surrey can't have been too devastated by the loss because Jade Dernbach posted pictures on Twitter last night of him, the captain and Maynard having a party on the town. Not sure how the Surrey fans would react to that!

Posted by   on (April 15, 2012, 22:53 GMT)

Two sides both played on the same pitch. Middlesex didn't win the game, Surrey lost it. Poor play from Adams' as well.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (April 15, 2012, 21:22 GMT)

Haha, what a shame for poor old Chelsea! Oops, sorry, I mean Surrey.

Posted by cricket_106 on (April 15, 2012, 20:10 GMT)

To be fair to RHB, he never said that the pitch was the reason for his team losing, but simply that it was a poor one, and that "it made for a battle out there".

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 15, 2012, 20:02 GMT)

@Allblue, the key was that in the fight between captains today, Dexter outfought and outthought Hamilton-Brown.

Posted by allblue on (April 15, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

Chris Adams is prone to football-speak so it's not surprising that he's 'doing a Fergie' and pointing the other way rather than addressing his own team's shortcomings. If the ECB think early April is late enough for the season to start so be it, but you are going to be playing on early April wickets. It's worth noting that in this round of matches only Glos scored more than Middx in the first innings of the match, it's a bowlers' time, and Surrey should be grateful that the ECB did not allow Steven Finn to play here. In the end the Middx bowlers held their nerve on the final morning, and brought a thrilling climax to a good, well fought and even contest between two sides that will bring something to the top division this season. After his injuries last year it's good to see Roland-Jones back in the groove. Not that England are short of seam bowling options at present, but in his 19 FC matches to date, he's taken 80 wickets @ 21.5, with a Steyn-esque SR of under 40. A genuine prospect.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 15, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

Poor pitch or not, it was an amazing climax and a stunning way for the BBC to inaugurate their live national County Championship commentary. Bucketloads of tension and a finish that swung hither and thither over the nearly an hour that play lasted today. And, obviously, Neil Dexter didn't think that the pitch was so bad... This match will be a tough act for 5Live to follow with the Lancashire game.

Posted by PunchDrunkPunter on (April 15, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

Finn, Murtagh and Roland-Jones. International class attack! Would be India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh's 1st choice seam attack for example!

Posted by Harvey on (April 15, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

Typical sour grapes. I seem to recall that Surrey won the toss in this game, so the fact that Middlesex won proves that it didn't give one side an unfair advantage. The game lasted into the 4th day too, so the pitch can't have been that bad! Maybe instead of trying to tell the Lord's groundsman how to do his job, RHB should concentrate on doing his own. He could start by persuading his bowlers to get through their overs at a sensible rate so his team doesn't get deducted a bonus point.

Posted by vulpecula on (April 15, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

Don't know who won but, was it by any chance Mdidlesex ? - Someone should tell those Surrey cry-babies to stop behaving like spoilt brat soccer players and just get on with the game

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (April 15, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

Given the intense rivalry between certain sections of Surrey and Middlesex supporters there is no suprise there is a certain amount of bitterness here. It's certainly hard to imagine Hamilton-Brown and Adams complaining about the pitch so much if they had scraped home by one wicket, and in fairness to Middlesex batsmen seem to have struggled all over the country in this round of county championship matches (just ask Lancashire and Glamorgan). Incidentally, it's no surprise to see cricinfo work into its report another gratuitous reference to late 1970s and early 1980s British popular music: I'm just surprised they didn't imagine Hamilton-Brown gearing up for his post-match interviews by listening to "I fought the law" and "London calling" by the Clash.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 15, 2012, 16:02 GMT)

There is no question that if Surrey had continued last night they would have won at a canter. The pitch required care and application and that was being shown by Maynard and Hamilton-Brown were showing it and Middlesex were powerless to stop them. However, the break allowed Middlesex to re-group and Surrey to woory about what would happen if they lost an early wicket or two and, when they did, they panicked. No other way to describe it. Surrey should have won still even with 8 wickets down and a capable batsman in Jon Lewis at the wicket, if they had played sensibly, but they didn't. It was a stunning capitulation. The terrors of the pitch were as much mental as anything: it wasn't a great pitch, after all, it's been a wet April, but nor was it that bad.

Posted by   on (April 15, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

One can't help but think Surrey are whingeing somewhat about the pitch. Both sides had to use the same conditions, and Middlesex just about came on top. With temperatures colder than at Christmas one can't expect a great pitch. Or at least great meaning set up for a boring draw? This was very exciting cricket, and called for batsmen to look to their technique. At the risk of sounding like Geoffrey Boycott, batsmen are spoiled by the lack of uncovered pitches!

Posted by Robster1 on (April 15, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

Winge winge winge as ever from the ever arrogant Surrey. Plus ca change...

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (April 15, 2012, 15:43 GMT)

It seems very careless to lose a match by 3 runs.

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