Middlesex v Somerset, Lord's, 1st day August 28, 2013

Barrow deals with greater emergency

David Lloyd at Lord's

Somerset 332 for 8 (Barrow 65, Trescothick 64, Dexter 3-52) v Middlesex

Alex Barrow answered an emergency call earlier this season by keeping wicket for Somerset in several Championship matches. But his rush to the rescue today could prove even more valuable as the county wage an increasingly desperate battle against relegation.

Barrow, a batsman first and foremost, took up the gloves in mid-summer while Jos Buttler was on England duty and Craig Kieswetter recovered from a broken thumb. He did the job with such quiet efficiency that most casual observers thought him a natural, rather than a hasty recruit to stumping duties.

But it is in front of the wicket that Barrow really needs to make his mark in order to guarantee a long professional career - and this innings, only his second half-century of the season, could hardly have been compiled at a more important time.

When Barrow, batting at No. 6, arrived in the middle, Somerset were heading for one of their all-too-familiar slumps. They had been a promising 116 for 1 and a not unreasonable 178 for 3. But with four wickets falling for 33 - three of them, including Kieswetter's tumbling while Barrow watched helplessly from the non-striker's end - an inadequate total of around 250 looked top of the range.

Not a bit of it, though. Barrow stood firm and then joined forces with the aggressive Piyush Chawla as 107 precious runs were added for the ninth wicket, thereby dealing another blow to Middlesex's now admittedly slim title chances.

The 21-year-old Barrow eventually fell for 65, lbw to Gareth Berg's nip-backer with the second new ball, but Chawla - the legspinner from India whom Somerset hope will bowl them to safety during the last few weeks of the season - reached the close unbeaten on 58.

Chawla's innings was certainly the most explosive of the day. He straight drove Ollie Rayner and Ravi Patel for sixes at a time when Middlesex's two slow bowlers were threatening to run through the visitors. His half-century also included seven fours and even when he offered the glimmer of a chance, edging a drive against Neil Dexter, the ball flew so high and fast that Rayner, at slip, did well to get finger-tips to it.

By the end of proceedings, Somerset - who started this round of matches just one place off the bottom - could feel satisfied with their day's work. But, really, it should not have needed those late runs to put a smile on West Country faces.

Having won the toss and taken first use of a pitch well towards the Mound Stand, the visitors started sketchily against Tim Murtagh and were fortunate to reach 79 before Nick Compton edged a back-foot force while looking to attack Dexter's medium-pace.

But thereafter, Marcus Trescothick grew in confidence and was middling the ball nicely by the time he completed only his fifth half-century of the season. Surely he would finally crack three figures in what has been a horribly frustrating season?

Afraid not. The deserving Murtagh cut him down, lbw, on 64 and then a combination of Dexter, Rayner and Patel reduced Somerset to something close to rubble. At 211 for 7, Middlesex may have thought their job was done - but Barrow and Chawla had other ideas. And big ideas, at that.