Rushworth, Hastings leave Voges to question call
Durham 294 (Jennings 98, Harris 4-69) and 24 for 2 require a further 235 to beat Middlesex 463 and 89 (Hastings 5-24, Rushworth 5-38)
In the course of an extraordinary eight months of first-class form, everything that Adam Voges has touched has turned to (green and) gold. But on perhaps the craziest day of action that he will have encountered in that time, it was his failure to knock on the visitors' dressing-room door that may yet come back to haunt him.
Chris Rushworth was already putting his feet up in the expectation of Keaton Jennings and Mark Stoneman going out to bat again, after Durham's first innings at Lord's subsided from a solid 229 for 4 before lunch to 294, a hefty deficit of 169. But perhaps mindful of the loss of his new-ball bowler Tim Murtagh to a hamstring strain, Voges decided to have another go himself. The upshot was a calypso collapso that put England's own failings in Barbados into perspective.
Middlesex shed seven wickets inside the first ten overs of their innings, as Rushworth, fresh from an innings of 40 as nightwatchman that might have served as a template for batting on this surface, charged in from the Pavilion End and used the slope with the aplomb of Glenn McGrath to scalp each of the first four wickets to fall.
Nick Gubbins was the first to go, turned inside out as he was rapped on the pad and removed lbw for 8, before Nick Compton was stunningly caught by a full-stretch Callum McLeod at gully for 5. Voges, showcasing his form right from the word go, then eased his first ball from Rushworth for four, only to be pinned on the pads by his very next ball.
Sam Robson, the first-innings centurion, this time had no means to stem the tide, as he too was pinned in front of the stumps by Rushworth's unerring accuracy and menace. But before there could be any let-up, John Hastings popped up at the Nursery End to emulate his attack leader and keep the crazy flow of wickets coming.
Hastings, who had been forced to graft so hard for his rewards in the first innings, aimed full and fuller to scalp three wickets for two runs in 11 balls. James Franklin edged a lifter to Phil Mustard behind the stumps and Ollie Rayner was late on a forward defensive and had his off stump flattened. In between, John Simpson contrived to fall for a duck twice. He was reprieved first time as Hastings overstepped, but Michael Richardson at slip made no mistake three balls later.
From their nadir of 37 for 7, Middlesex limped to tea with a lead of 215, but two more slip catches deadened their hopes of a revival. Paul Collingwood, whose team-talk Rushworth later credited for the fightback, scooped a low and disputed edge off Neil Dexter at first slip, before McLeod pulled off his second blinder of the innings to hand Rushworth his five-for, courtesy of the wicket of James Harris.
Only one man had the gumption to fight back for Middlesex. Tim Murtagh shouldn't even have risen from the physio's bench, having been ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury. But his one-legged tonkings momentarily scattered Durham's resolve, as Rushworth saw another wicket-to-wicket delivery flipped remarkably into the Grandstand for six. With Steven Finn joining the fun in a tenth-wicket stand of 39, the pair all but doubled their team total before a switch of ends for Hastings ended the entertainment.
Who knows how vital that partnership may prove in the long run. By the close, a chastened Middlesex were fighting back hard, reducing Durham to 24 for 2 in eight overs, for the loss of both openers. They still need another 235 on the final day. There's life in this contest yet.
Andrew Miller is a former editor of the Cricketer. @miller_cricket