Middlesex v Yorkshire, Lord's, 3rd day

Middlesex's middle-order exposed

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Lord's

June 13, 2013

Comments: 8 | Text size: A | A

Middlesex 175 (Berg 54, Patterson 4-39, Plunket 4-50) and 137 for 4 (Rashid 3-51) trail Yorkshire 390 by 78 runs

Liam Plunkett appeals for one of his five wickets, Warwickshire v Yorkshire, County Championship, Division One, Edgbaston, 1st day, May, 15, 2013
Liam Plunkett was one of the key bowlers for Yorkshire © PA Photos

An exceptional day for Yorkshire sees them on the brink of inflicting Middlesex's first defeat at Lord's since May 2011 and achieving their first away win in this fixture since 1987. A total of 13 wickets fell as the visiting bowlers bowled tirelessly through the day to expose fragility in Middlesex's middle order that up until now had been shielded by the success of their in-form openers Chris Rogers and Sam Robson.

It was a heavily overcast start and when play was halted at 11:46 for bad light, you did wonder how Middlesex would deal with the extra intervals. Unfortunately for the hosts, that proved to be the only one. Returning 26 minutes later, Rogers soon departed with only 46 on the scoreboard, and with him the faint hope that the follow-on would be avoided.

When it was enforced, the Middlesex captain lasted only five balls into his second innings and, while Robson looked like he was beginning to settle into a groove, he played across the line to a short ball from Adil Rashid that straightened and hurried on to all but end Middlesex's hopes of saving this match.

It is worth noting that of the seven century partnerships Middlesex batsmen have put together this season, only one was scored without either Rogers or Robson, who have featured together in four of them.

It is an indication of just how over-reliant Middlesex have been on their opening pair and how lucky they have been that their underperforming middle order had not cost them. Neil Dexter has been the only batsman outside the top two to reach triple figures, while others like Joe Denly and John Simpson have contributed the odd half-century, but nothing more. Dawid Malan has already paid the price for his paucity of red ball runs, and there is little chance he will be the last.

For all Middlesex's batting malaise, the Yorkshire attack put in a near faultless display. The wickets have been shared about this season, as evidenced by the fact that Steven Patterson has the most (24) despite not having taken five wickets in an innings. His haul of four to finish Middlesex off for 175 is his highest to date.

Ryan Sidebottom was masterful from over the wicket, particularly to the left handers, taking the vital second innings wicket of Rogers, while Rashid took three valuable wickets in the evening session with some bite and turn that will buoy him going into tomorrow. But it was Liam Plunkett who incorporated some versatility into his bowling repertoire to hammer home Yorkshire's advantage.

"A freedom to smash the deck as quick as I can," was the response from Plunkett when it was put to him that his control looked as good as it ever has been. On first change in the morning, the onus was on him to plunge the knife into Middlesex and then twist it with the help of Patterson. It took him three balls, as Rogers nicked behind, before he worked over Adam London and then made a mess of Simpson's stumps with a sharp yorker - "a delivery that can get people out" as he needlessly put it - you would not wish upon the toes of your worst enemy.

His last season at Durham was one he was keen to forget - both on and off the field, where he picked a second drink driving charge - so much so that he went down to Headingley as soon as the 2012 season ended to begin his indoor work. A stint bowling into the relatively flat Adelaide decks helped him find some rhythm and confidence. He says he still bowls the odd bad ball - not that they were on show today - but feels experience has taught him to let them go. "You can always take a wicket with the next ball" his new mantra.

A good night sleep is on the cards for him and the rest of the Yorkshire side, as they return tomorrow with six wickets to take and, perhaps, a modest total to chase, for a first win in 19 attempts against Middlesex and one which will take them to the top of the Championship.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mikey76 on (June 14, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

After a couple of barren seasons Rashid really looks to have matured into a fine all round player. I think he has 3 tons this season and now this five-for. If he keeps this up then I don't see why the ashes tour is out of the question. England now have a number of all round options at no.6. Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick are two others. Hopefully Root moves up to open soon and allow England an all round option at 6 to ease the burden on the fast bowlers.

Posted by njr1330 on (June 14, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

Rashid ends with 5 wickets: remind me, who is the other England spinner with a batting average of 145?!

Posted by   on (June 14, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

Only five overseas players in the Middlesex side, now I see the problem! having English players in your side is overrated, just ask Surrey....

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (June 14, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

@njr1330 THe answer to that one is simple: sustain it over the season. If he does he'll be with either the Lions or the main tour party.

Posted by njr1330 on (June 13, 2013, 22:34 GMT)

What does Rashid have to do to get picked for England? His county batting average has just slumped to a mere 145 for the season...and he's just taken 3 of the 4 wickets to fall! P.S. the question is being posed by a Lancastrian!

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (June 13, 2013, 22:26 GMT)

Ps: How long before Liam Plunkett is back in the England squad? If he keeps up this good form I can see him as injury cover for Tim Bresnan or Stuart Broad.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (June 13, 2013, 22:06 GMT)

Middlesex have gone off the boil recently - with this match it will be only one win in the last 6 games - and their Championship ambitions are clearly floundering. It is still not going to be easy for Yorkshire to win this game, but they have a better than fair chance. Unlike Sussex last week, Middlesex will start the day with two relatively new batsmen at the crease who will be vulnerable and a real danger that one of them may fall quickly.

A win at Lords would be a huge statement by Yorkshire that they are going to be real Championship contenders; they have surprised me by showing that they can stay the course and could even win.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (June 13, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

I remember everyone saying after the first day of the season how one bad day by newly promoted Yorkshire 'showed the huge gulf between the divisions' and how 'although everyoone knows they are almost certain to be relegated straight back to the bottom division, their young team should get some experience'. Oh let's not forget the bookies top tip - 'with three top players missing to England, Yorkshire should be easy money to come bottom of the league'

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