Murtagh leads strong Middlesex riposte
Glamorgan 85 for 3 (Powell 45*, Dalrymple 15*, Murtagh 3-25) trail Middlesex 308 (Nash 96) by 223 runs
The weather gods tried to upset play on the second day at Lord's, but Middlesex scrapped and clawed their way back into the reckoning against Glamorgan. With Tim Murtagh prising out three quick wickets before the close, Glamorgan hobbled to stumps trailing by 223 runs.
Murtagh bowled seven lively overs unchanged from the Nursery End in perfect late-afternoon sunshine, finding one to hold its line on Matthew Wood, whose feet were planted. Glamorgan were 0 for 1 and in spite of the seemingly perfect batting conditions, Murtagh and Chris Silverwood were moving the ball prodigously. After clipping two neat fours David Hemp was bowled through the gate by a cracking off-cutter which jarred down the slope, and Gareth Rees - who was earlier struck a nasty blow between the knees - poked tentatively at one which held its line on the off stump.
Mike Powell - Glamorgan's dogfighter - was the first Glamorgan batsman to move his feet noticably and benefitted accordingly, on-driving Murtagh for four past mid-on to alleviate the drought Middlesex's bowlers had imposed. Together with Jamie Dalrymple, making his Glamorgan debut against his former team-mates, the pair guided their side to relative safety in the dying light.
That Murtagh and Silverwood were able to impose such pressure with the ball was down to Middlesex's gritty determination with the bat. Only ten, turgid overs were possible in between the morning rain but after lunch, Murtagh in particular showed composure and class in his brief but valuable 22. The inconsistent David Harrison was cover-driven for four, and he followed it up with the day's most elegant off drive to nudge Middlesex past 250.
Still, as impressive as Murtagh's brief innings was, Middlesex were most indebted to David Nash, who resumed on 53. Orthodox is not an adjective often used to describe Middlesex's wicketkeeper but today, in difficult seaming conditions, he was just that. Using the crease well, he nudged Harrison repeatedly through the leg side and twice back-cut Ryan Watkins - whose energy was admirable, if not so his line and length - for delicate fours, albeit with the impish charm that befits wicketkeeper-batsmen.
Nash received good support from Gareth Berg, a Kolpak-qualified South African making his Championship debut, with whom he put on 61 for the sixth wicket. Berg was confident off the back foot, flaying Watkins through extra cover before pulling him through midwicket, but Robert Croft out-thought him on 33 when he bat-padded a cleverly-flighted delivery. Silverwood added a swift and agricultural 16, but Nash was last-man out four short of a deserved hundred when he wellied Alex Wharf to short square-leg. Nevertheless, 308 represented somewhat of a recovery from yesterday's 198 for 5.
As the light drew in Powell survived a very confident appeal for lbw from Steven Finn, Middlesex's immensely promising 6ft 8in fast bowler, but Glamorgan were spared further loss. Not since 1954 have Glamorgan celebrated a win at Lord's, and they face an uphill haul if they are to end that 54-year drought over the final two days.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo