Godleman grinds Middlesex ahead
Middlesex 313 for 7 (Godleman 105, Malan 50, Lewis 5-64) lead Gloucestershire 218 by 95 runs
Middlesex ground their way towards a three-figure lead over Gloucestershire on the second day at Lord's thanks to a patient hundred from Billy Godleman, his first since the opening Championship game of 2007. On a day when low clouds threatened rain throughout, there was a surprising amount of cricket for the few hundred who braved miserable conditions, although it was hardly a thrill a minute.
Godleman, with only two fifties to his name in ten appearances so far this season, displayed patience in his five-and-a-half hour innings, with long periods of caution punctuated by the occasional superb stroke. Resuming on 40 after rain delayed the resumption by 90 minutes, he made only five in the half hour before lunch. He enjoyed a slice of luck soon after the restart when he snicked Steve Kirby between the keeper and a very wide first slip to bring up his fifty, but thereafter made more assured progress.
As his confidence grew, he started playing more shots, the best of which was a sublime cut off Richard Dawson. The delight with which he greeted his hundred emphasised the importance of the innings to him, and he immediately celebrated with a sumptuous cover drive off Jon Lewis. Three balls later Lewis got his revenge when Godleman chased a very wide half volley and got a thin edge to Steve Snell.
Ed Joyce, who has also had a poor summer, failed to build on a solid start last night, edging a ball from Kirby angled across him low to first slip in the brief morning session.
After a slightly delayed resumption to the afternoon, Eoin Morgan was well caught by Snell before Dawid Malan, whose future at the club is uncertain, and Godleman capitalised on some mediocre bowling in a fifth-wicket stand of 110. Malan brought up his fifty with a brace of sweeps off the unimpressive Dawson as Middlesex eased into the lead, but the second new ball finally presented the batsmen with some challenges.
Lewis, reinvigorated at the Nursery End, struck in the third over, trapping Malan half forward, and then after dismissing Godleman he speared one in to remove Ben Scott for 6 to complete his first five-wicket haul of the summer. Middlesex had lost three wickets for 18.
With the forecast for tomorrow appalling, Middlesex might have been expected to go for quick runs while they could. Instead, the innings spent an hour in the doldrums as Murali Kartik and Shaun Udal contrived to make scoring appear a dreadfully hard business in adding 44 runs in 16 overs.
Katrik played one lovely drive off Lewis and Udal lofted Dawson for six over the short Tavern boundary, but otherwise it was fairly turgid fare. Kartik finally fell in the penultimate over to another diving catch from the athletic Snell.
Middlesex remain in the driving seat and can still force a win if Gloucestershire bat as badly second time round as they did yesterday. The elements, however, may well have the final say.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo