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First-person reports from the stands
Day three of Middlesex's last game of the season vs Worcestershire. Nothing in it for Middlesex except pride, but Worcestershire needed to win to have a very slim chance of promotion. Middlesex started the day 244 for 5 in reply to Worcestershire's 313 with Neil Dexter and Owais Shah at the crease. The day ended with Middlesex having been bowled out for 392 and Worcestershire 195 for 7 which they will be disappointed with.
I'm Middlesex through and through but I do have a big soft spot for Worcestershire, who are a young side with no really big names, and have exceeded all expectations this year.
One thing I'd have changed
With the glorious sunshine and a typical Lord's pitch, there wasn't much of a contest between bat and ball in the morning session. There's nowhere like Lord's when the sun is shining. Then shortly after lunch, the heavens opened but we were only off for less than an hour. Lord's verges on the depressing when it rains. The seats get all wet and everyone sits at the back of the stands where the seats are dry. I wish the person in charge of the weather was a cricket fan.
No need for a packed lunch or flask when I go to Lord',s but I rely on my iPhone to enhance my viewing so I can tweet updates during the day and to listen to the excellent Kevin Hand on BBC's live coverage, although the commentary is about seven seconds behind the live action which is a little surreal.
It was the Shah show today. One of the best tons I've seen him score. A real display of his undoubted class.
Interplay I enjoyed most
Not much facing off on the pitch as you would expect in a Division 2 match but Shah v the pavilion was a talking point. Shah was recently released from Middlesex under somewhat controversial circumstances. He got his ton at midday and made his point by raising his bat to the Warner Stand and Mound Stand but not to the pavilion. Although a little childish, after 16 years service he clearly felt aggrieved at both being released and the manner in which he found about it. His wicket fell straight after lunch to Moeem Ali. There was a touching moment at the start of Worcestershire's second innings as Shah was applauded onto the field by his team-mates. He went on to take the wicket of Vikram Solanki.
Filling the gaps
As a Middlesex member, I have the privilege of being able to sit in the pavilion so the lunch and tea breaks are filled with some of the best food on the county circuit plus chatting with the regulars.
Division two cricket normally provides a few hilarious village moments. Among the disappointingly few on day three was the moment when Al Richardson didn't go for an admittedly quite tricky catch on the square-leg boundary while Shah was in the 90s - perhaps a gentleman's agreement?
With all eyes on Shah in his last game for Middlesex, it would have been easy to forget the batsman at the other end - Dexter, who for my money, is precisely the sort of player any county would want. He quietly went about his business, outscoring Shah in the morning session, and playing some glorious shots albeit in good batting conditions and against some slightly average bowling. He fell on 97 just after lunch but it was a fine innings.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention the five wickets and two half-centuries by part-time spinner Moeen Ali - a great way for him to mark the festival of Eid.
Shot of the day
Take your pick from any of Shah's. One particular cover drive off the bowling of Daryl Mitchell just before lunch sticks in my mind. Straight from the coaching manual. Remember how we all used to rave about Vaughan's cover drive? It was like that.
A midweek Division two Championship game isn't going to attract an enormous crowd but I would estimate just under 1000. There was a good smattering of people in the Compton, Mound and Warner stands, a pretty full pavilion and the Allen Stand where the Middlesex members' room is situated.
The only lunch-time entertainment was provided by Mick Hunt and his excellent ground staff. I retreated to the long room bar for a hot roast beef sandwich and a gin and tonic which is as much entertainment as I can handle these days.
Championship v Twenty20
I'm a red-ball purist. Twenty20 has its place and you can't argue with the revenue and crowds it brings in, but championship cricket is my love; played in whites, with a red ball like cricket should be.
Marks out of 10
9. A very good day's cricket tinged with the sadness that it was my last day at Lord's this summer. A run fest in the morning and a wicket fest in the afternoon. Not a good day for Worcestershire but a good day for me. It was wonderful to witness Shah's ton and to continue to see the progress of Mo Ali whom I've kept an eye on all season. The winter always seems excruciatingly long.
I think inconsistent is the best word to describe Middlesex's performances over the season. It's been a disappointing campaign in all three forms of the game, hampered a little by injuries and having three players regularly in the England side. But a successful county has the depth to account for such problems. The future at Lord's is looking brighter with some good youngsters in the squad but there are issues to be resolved over the winter, particularly around top-order batting for next year.
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