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May 30, 2008
Middlesex 10 for 1 (Smith 5*, Evans 0*) trail Derbyshire 244 (Birch 72, Rogers 63) by 234 runs
Ed Smith's decision to insert Derbyshire paid off at Lord's as the visitors were bowled out for 244 on the opening day. The top order suggested a more fruitful time for Derbyshire, but they lost their last six wickets for 46, including Dan Birch who top-scored with 72, as the Middlesex attack shared the workload and the wickets. However, the visitors did manage a late strike to leave them feeling in slightly better heart.
When a captain decides to bowl they always say judge the decision at the end of the day, so it all looks quite rosy for Smith, but he will have had more than the odd concern during the morning session as the first wicket added 87. His bowlers, though, bounced back after not making best use of conditions early on. Vernon Philander, the South African allrounder, played an important role with a tight afternoon spell before Shaun Udal managed to nip in and help himself to a couple of wickets.
The first of those was Birch, who had never been entirely convincing in his 161-ball innings, but at least showed more stickability than some of his team-mates. Initially, Udal's role was probably just to keep the scoring rate down until the second new-ball, but he found one to bounce a touch on Birch from the Pavilion End to spark four wickets in 17 balls.
It was a far cry from the morning session where the bat dominated. Tim Murtagh struggled in his opening six-over burst, but Dirk Nannes, the brisk left-arm seamer from Victoria, was more probing and struck Steve Stubbings a painful blow on the arm as the opener swayed awkwardly away from a bouncer. Chris Rogers, too, had fitness issues when he needed some treatment for a back problem, although reached an typically robust half-century.
Nannes was rewarded with the first breakthrough when Stubbings pushed outside off stump once too often and Chris Scott, selected ahead of David Nash, held a neat low catch. Rogers fell to the fifth ball after lunch when he dragged into his leg stump against Philander and Derbyshire's middle order failed to build on a solid base.
Rikki Clarke was dislodged by a superb yorker from the impressive-looking Danny Evans. Alongside Steven Finn, who wasn't selected for this match, Evans is the future of Middlesex's quick bowling ranks and already has a six-wicket haul against Essex earlier this month.
John Sadler never got going before he was trapped in front by one which swung back a touch from Murtagh. Freddie Klokker then joined the list of Derbyshire batsmen to take a blow when he was hit on the chin by a Murtagh short ball and needed patching up by the physio. The knock appeared to unsettle him and it didn't come as a huge surprise when he fended outside off stump, sending a comfortable catch to Eoin Morgan at second slip off the deserving Philander.
One of the features of Derbyshire's performances this season has been the contribution of their lower order to bolstering the total, but today they fell like skittles. After Udal removed Birch he then had Graham Wagg taken at a deepish mid-off, and between times Jonathan Clare was caught low at second slip off Murtagh.
Middlesex couldn't survive the final five overs intact as Billy Godleman was trapped lbw by Kevin Dean, and it could have been worse as Evans, the nightwatchman, was also dropped at fourth slip. Derbyshire have a decent attack, well-led by Charl Langeveldt, and Middlesex will have to fight hard to make the most of their decent bowling display.
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