Middlesex make it two wins in a row
Middlesex 584 (Shah 144, Morgan 96, Kaneria 7-157) beat Essex 161 (Murtagh 6-44) and 383 (ten Doeschate 78, Pettini 75, Bopara 54, Nannes 4-75, Murtagh 4-83) by an innings and 38 runs
It's a telling statement that Middlesex's last victory over Essex at Lord's came during the latter end of the Thatcher era, but there's enough evidence to suggest it won't be as long a wait next time around.
Their second Championship win on the trot, by an innings-and-38-runs, lifting Middlesex to third in the second division, was finished convincingly between lunch and tea on the fourth day. Essex went out to bat needing something massive to salvage a draw but lost wickets at irregular intervals to end on 384 with Tim Murtagh claiming 4 for 83, to complete ten in the match, and Dirk Nannes' complimenting him with 4 for 75.
Mark Pettini, the visiting captain, and Ryan ten Doeschate batted sensibly enough during their fifth-wicket stand the previous evening, but a final-day revival was always going to need something spectacular. ten Doeschate came out more adventurously, especially willing to pull Nannes' well-directed short-pitched offers. His fifty wasn't long in coming, but he went into his shell after Pettini's dismissal for 75.
At 239 for 4, Pettini paid the price for his first lazy shot of the morning, chipping Murtagh to midwicket where Shaun Udal held a neat low catch. Udal then came on in the 73rd over, from the Nursery End, after an hour's play and kept it tidy as Essex slowed down.
With ten Doeschate quite composed Ed Smith changed his bowlers around more than yesterday, rotating his four seamers in brief bursts. Steven Finn looked the most threatening but ten Doeschate was clinical in his handling of Finn's lift off the deck. Udal's frustration was evident with several extremely hopeful lbw appeals to deliveries clearly pitching outside leg stump, which ten Doeschate mostly swept away.
Smith's decision to take the new ball proved his smartest choice of the day, and it altered the complexion of the morning. Murtagh needed just two deliveries to trap James Foster lbw for 23, though it appeared to have been a little high. There was nothing questionable about Murtagh's next strike, as ten Doeschate's attempt to leave one came back off the inside edge onto the top of off stump.
Nannes gave Alex Tudor a solid working over with a string of bouncers before lunch, but James Middlebrook's dismissal for four, Murtagh's fourth wicket, sparked a period of aggression from Essex's lower order. Tudor and David Masters added 59 with a flurry of flowing boundaries - most of Masters' shots came out of the middle, barring one slash just over third slip's fingertips - before Nannes cleaned him up for a brisk 27.
Danish Kaneria's attempts to take matters into the final session ended when he was neatly held by a sliding catch at midwicket, giving Udal his first wicket of the match. It hadn't been all smooth sailing on the final day, but it was a clinical win and could make the special general meeting called by members a slightly less heated affair.
Middlesex next take on Northamptonshire at Uxbridge from June 29, while Essex play Derbyshire at Chelmsford the same day.
Jamie Alter is a staff writer at Cricinfo