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Bailey's first Lord's hundred protects Middlesex lead

Surrey 415 (Roy 110, Burns 88, Foakes 63*) and 266 for 7 dec (S Curran 71, Foakes 65*, Roland-Jones 3-44, Rayner 3-71) drew with Middlesex 293 (Gubbins 82, Simpson 58, S Curran 4-60) and 278 for 6 (Bailey 110*, Franklin 70, Ansari 4-63)
Scorecard

A little after six o'clock on the final afternoon, George Bailey unfurled a sumptuous straight drive off Sam Curran. It was the final ball of the match, and a draw was already assured, but no matter: Bailey's excellence was undiluted until the very end.

Middlesex have been served magnificently by Australian batsmen in recent seasons, Chris Rogers and Adam Voges among them. Yet as Bailey walked off at Lord's, saluted by the opposition and the MCC's members, he could reflect on an innings that any of them would have been proud to claim as their own.

Bailey had not merely protected north London pride, prickled when Surrey knocked Middlesex out of the Royal London One-Day Cup on Tuesday, but also enhanced Middlesex's lead at the summit of the County Championship to 13 points, although Yorkshire, one point further back, retain a game in hand.

He has enjoyed a storied career, captaining Australia in the World Twenty20, playing in the Indian Premier League and being involved in a 5-0 Ashes win. Yet this was something new: a first century at Lord's, and the private bliss that followed. "I'd be happy with no one in the ground here. Playing here is so special," Bailey said.

While Bailey is accustomed to T20 pyrotechnics, here he revealed himself to be a man with adhesive defence and an unbending will to resist Surrey, though never did he abandon his relish for marmalising any delivery that offered width. Bailey's century arrived through three consecutive rasping cuts, off Stuart Meaker; 15 of his 20 fours came between backward point and extra cover.

Along the way Bailey had done a little to revive the battered reputation of Australian players against spin bowling, even if he will encounter bowling and pitches more venomous when he ventures to Sri Lanka after playing in Middlesex's T20 quarter-final at Northampton on Tuesday. "It was nice to face a bit of spin today - I'm not sure if that's quite the same as the boys have been facing in Sri Lanka. No doubt I'll be getting a bit more of that."

Bailey forged a wonderful Antipodean alliance with James Franklin, who accompanied him for 51.2 overs of steadfast defence. While the two never imagined victory possible - "It was always going to be out of out of reach," Bailey said - nor did they attempt to play in a way that was unnatural to them.

One significant effect was to minimise the amount of consecutive deliveries that Surrey's spin twins bowled to either batsman: Ansari managed only three maidens in 29 overs, which spoke of how Bailey and Franklin never became becalmed. Franklin, who had just been dropped by Ben Foakes off Sam Curran, was finally prized out when Zafar Ansari located the rough and got the second new ball to spin viciously into his stumps: a delivery befitting the innings of the man it dismissed.

It had come too late, even if Gareth Batty was not prepared to accept as much. Even when there were wickets to get than balls to take them in, Batty refused to countenance calling the game off as a draw, perhaps unable to comprehend how Surrey had put so much into a game yet would not be rewarded by victory.

Only a few hours earlier, Surrey had seemed on the brink of an emphatic win. A wicket apiece for the Curran brothers with the new ball had given Surrey a platform from which to mount an assault for victory and how Zafar Ansari seemed to do that after lunch. Trying to use his feet to negate the turn, Nick Compton was deceived by a wider, quicker ball and neatly stumped by Foakes.

Then, Dawid Malan, attempting to do the same, flicked a ball onto the toes of Dominic Sibley, fielding at short leg, whereupon the rebound was snaffled by Foakes. And when John Simpson was trapped lbw, playing back, Middlesex had lost three wickets for 11 runs, and a swift ending looked probable.

There were puffs of dust on the pitch. There were footmarks left by Surrey's pace bowlers. There was every ounce of effort that Surrey could muster. But it wasn't enough to make this wicket deteriorate on the final day; the trueness of the wicket at the end of the game surprised both Bailey and Surrey's coach Michael di Venuto. Perhaps di Venuto was left ruing all the assistance he has given Bailey, a fellow Tasmanian, over the years with his technique.

Surrey hurtled everything of themselves at Bailey and Franklin. They tried their spin twins, and even used Dominic Sibley for a few overs of exploratory legspin - the first, indeed, almost claimed Nick Compton, who top-edged a pull tantalisingly out of Jason Roy's reach. The pace bowlers were summoned in short bursts, and had a captain who who not shy to innovate. At one stage Sam Curran even bowled with three catchers in front of the wicket on both the offside and legside.

The quicks tried again with the second new ball, and Foakes spilled Franklin off Curran. After Franklin was eventually dismissed, Batty then implored Meaker and Curran to summon even more from within themselves. They did so but Bailey, farming the strike after Franklin's late dismissal, was not for moving.

Middlesex will draw strength from salvaging a draw from a game in which they were outplayed for "three and a half days," in Bailey's reckoning. It means that they have now five games at Lord's this season, and drawn the lot. One wag suggested that, even if four-day Test matches are introduced, five-day Championship games should become the norm at Lord's.