Compton knock saves Somerset
Somerset 173 and 227 for 7 dec. (Compton 69*, Trego 50) drew with Middlesex 364 for 3 dec. (Rogers 173, Denly 116*)
How close Middlesex came to completing a quite stupefying victory at Lord's, in little more than half the allotted playing time. Had Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner held on to sharp offerings by Jos Buttler and Nick Compton in successive overs in mid-afternoon, Somerset would have been six wickets down, all their recognised batsmen out, and still around 80 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat. As it was, the two chances were spurned, Compton went on to a sturdy unbeaten 69, and the visitors survived with the help of one more shower.
It was no kind of feat to achieve a draw in a week of oppressively heavy rain; Somerset had done their best to allow Middlesex the chance of a storming result despite the storms. Rolled for 173 in the first innings and crashed to all parts of Lord's by Chris Rogers, Joe Denly and Dawid Malan when Middlesex replied, they did not look a happy team. But the rain and a slightly improved second innings allowed them to remain third in the County Championship. Middlesex are fourth but look soundly placed for a run at the leaders in the latter half of the season - albeit away from the home comforts of Lord's due its Olympics secondment.
"It didn't go our way and they were a couple of tough chances - you'd like to think you could hold onto one, but we're not going to get too worried about it," Rogers said. "Given four days I think we would've won quite comprehensively, but that's the way it goes, we're playing excellent cricket, there's a really good spirit among the boys and hopefully we can continue.
"Being away from Lord's is going to hurt us, for some reason we seem to have a huge advantage playing here. I think with the slope and our bowlers it helps us, plus as a batting side we're used to it, whereas others find it a little difficult initially. Going out to Uxbridge will pose different questions. But no team's really outplaying us."
Alfonso Thomas was taking very little solace from dodging an outright defeat. "It was not ideal, the weather has for once this season come on our side," he said. "But we've definitely been outplayed the last three days, Middlesex have bowled and batted definitely better than us and we have to go back to the drawing board - try to fix things for the Twenty20 campaign coming up."
The skies had again been grim at the scheduled start time, and it was not until 12.15pm that play was able to start, Rogers declaring the Middlesex innings closed in the meantime with a lead of 191. Having been 1 for 2 on the first morning, Somerset slid promptly to 4 for 2 second time around, Arul Suppiah snicking a good one from the recovered Corey Collymore in the second over, having already edged him short and wide of the cordon in the space of his first three balls.
Alex Barrow then propped forward to Tim Murtagh's inswing but not far enough to avoid being given lbw by the umpire and former England seamer Neil Mallender. Compton and James Hildreth prospered for a time either side of lunch, Compton cracking some particularly compelling boundaries off the back foot through the offside to demonstrate the method that has reaped so many runs this season.
However Hildreth perished to a poor - and poorly-timed - shot, swinging at a fired up Toby Roland-Jones and miscuing to deep midwicket where Eoin Morgan held a decent catch as the ball died. The stroke was so far from the middle of the bat that it failed to threaten the shortest of boundaries on the east side of the ground. Craig Kieswetter departed swiftly, edging into Malan's sure hands at first slip, and Buttler survived for long enough in the company of Compton to frustrate Middlesex's ambitions. Buttler was first to give a chance, the ball flashing through Berg's hands at gully, before Rayner made more solid contact with Compton's edge at second slip but failed to cling on.
Berg made amends some overs later by coaxing another nick, this time held safely by Malan. Peter Trego, though, had shown notable fight in the first innings and he followed it up here, making the most of some good fortune but also playing some stirring strokes in a half century that took Somerset to within 15 runs of making Middlesex bat again.
Murtagh's return to the attack brought a brief flurry of action, Trego having his off stump tilted by a delivery that moved back down the slope, and the 18-year-old Craig Overton was then bounced out for the second time in the match to complete an ungainly pair. This meant Middlesex had only another three wickets to get, in some of the best weather of the entire match, but the visiting captain Thomas accompanied Compton to the finish, taking Somerset into the lead with a flick to the backward square leg fence.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here