Voges, Franklin pull off huge Middx chase
Middlesex 317 (Voges 98, Gubbins 92, Gregory 6-101) and 405 for 5 (Voges 132, Franklin 115*, Gubbins 78) beat Somerset 408 (Hildreth 187, Trescothick 140, Harris 5-83) and 310 (Hildreth 86, Harris 3-64) by wickets
Composed centuries from captain Adam Voges and James Franklin led Middlesex to a five-wicket Championship victory over Somerset at Taunton after they had been set an unlikely 402 to win.
Voges hit 132 and shared a fourth-wicket stand of exactly 200 with Franklin, who contributed 115 not out, as the visitors coasted to success against a toothless Somerset attack, deprived of their quickest bowler, Jamie Overton, because of injury.
Starting the day on 31 without loss, Middlesex, helped by 78 from Nick Gubbins, overcame the early loss of Sam Robson and Nick Compton to dominate proceedings and collect 22 points to Somerset's eight. For the hosts it was a second home defeat in as many Championship games under new director of cricket Matthew Maynard in a worrying start to the new campaign.
It looked set to be a closer contest when Lewis Gregory added to his six first-innings wickets by having Robson caught at second slip for 15 and bowling Compton shouldering arms with an inswinger for 4. But that was as good as it got for Somerset, who barely threatened once the shine had gone off the ball.
Gubbins reached his second half-century of the match off 64 balls, with six fours and two sixes, sharing a partnership of 92 with Voges. It was ended by Abdur Rehman scattering Gubbins' stumps with the total on 137. But it proved a frustrating day for the experienced Pakistan left-arm spinner, who was unable to extract much assistance from the last-day pitch.
By lunch Middlesex had progressed to 148 for 3, with Voges unbeaten on 34. He and Franklin then batted through the afternoon session with virtually no alarms. Voges reached his half-century off 84 balls, with five fours, while Franklin followed to the same landmark off 106 deliveries, having hit eight boundaries.
Just before tea Voges, who failed by only two to make a first innings hundred, reached three figures, having paced his innings perfectly. By then he had hit ten fours in facing 163 balls.
Middlesex went into the final session needing 122 from a minimum of 32 overs. Somerset's last hope was the second new ball, taken with 99 required off 22.5 overs. It made little difference with Voges and Franklin well set and playing with an air of invincibility. By the time Tim Groenewald broke the stand by having Voges caught behind driving only 65 were needed.
Franklin continued to play with patience and skill, reaching his ton off 210 balls, with 13 fours, by square driving Rehman to the boundary. Thanks largely to his efforts and those of Voges, Middlesex achieved the third-highest winning run chase at Taunton with seven balls to spare, despite having Neil Dexter bowled by Rehman with 21 still needed.
"It was an outstanding win for us given our position on the first day and particularly without Tim Murtagh bowling in the second innings. He had a back spasm, but seems fine now," Middlesex skipper Adam Voges said. "I was very disappointed to miss out so narrowly on a hundred in the first innings, so it was good to get there today, although I would have liked to stay with James Franklin until the end.
"James paced his innings perfectly and was totally unflappable as we got nearer our target. I believe we have a squad capable of challenging strongly in the Championship this season."
Reflecting on a second home defeat at the start of his time as Somerset director of cricket, Matthew Maynard said: "I thought there were more positives than in the first game against Durham, one of them being that Marcus Trescothick is in terrific form. Not having Jamie Overton available to bowl today was a blow and perhaps we lacked sufficient variety without him. He will be having an MRI scan on his ankle before we know the full extent of the damage."