Middlesex slump to fourth straight defeat
Gloucestershire 268 and 223 beat Middlesex 203 and 185 by 103 runs
Gloucestershire needed only 34 balls and 25 minutes to claim the last three Middlesex wickets and complete an 103-run victory in their County Championship Division Two encounter at a near deserted Lord's.
Middlesex have now lost their first four championship games, their worst start to the season since the competition proper was instituted in 1870. It is also their worst sequence in the four-day format since they finished the 1998 campaign with five straight defeats.
They were only saved from probable defeat inside three days by bad light during the final session on Thursday, but their position was all but hopeless when play began yesterday. Needing another 123 runs, Middlesex's ultra-slim hope of victory lay with their eighth-wicket pair of captain Shaun Udal and Tim Murtagh launching an all-out assault.
They successfully negotiated the opening over from Gemaal Hussain and the first attacking shot of note came when Udal pulled Steve Kirby' s first ball of the day through midwicket for four.
Hussain struck with the fifth ball of his next over, although he did not have to work very hard for his fifth wicket of the innings. Left-hander Murtagh chipped tamely to substitute fielder Anthony Ireland at mid-off.
In the next over New Zealander Iain O'Brien perished. He guided Kirby tentatively through the covers for two, but was sharply caught, low down at second slip by Stephen Snell, off the following ball.
Ireland claimed another assist two overs later when Kirby dug a delivery in to Middlesex's last man, Danny Evans, and the ball looped gently to short leg. Evans was far from convinced he was out, but Middlesex's situation was so futile it barely mattered.
Kirby finished with 3 for 36 and Hussain 5 for 46, making him, if only briefly, the leading wicket-taker in the country. Gloucestershire were relieved to get off the mark after two home defeats, while Middlesex face the daunting prospect of going to Hove for their next championship match - Sussex have won their first four matches.