Worcestershire 113 for 8 (Murtagh 4-37) trail Middlesex 144 (Holden 52, Barnard 4-43) by 31 runs
Bowlers feasted as 18 wickets fell on the first day of the LV= Insurance County Championship Division Three match between Middlesex and Worcestershire at Lord's.
Ed Barnard claimed 4 for 43 and skipper Joe Leach 3 for 30 as the hosts were hustled out for 144 after being put in, Max Holden providing the only resistance with 52, his first half-century of the season. But Middlesex hit back, Tim Murtagh taking 4 for 37 and Ethan Bamber 3 for 29 to leave Worcestershire 113 for 8 when bad light provided early sanctuary for beleaguered batsmen.
Middlesex fielded the same top seven which had amassed 676 for 5 at Hove last week, but this green top at Lord's in conditions where the ball swung prodigiously was a different beast and Worcestershire's attack exploited conditions superbly.
Mark Stoneman shouldered arms to one Leach brought back in and was trapped lbw before Steven Eskinazi and Robbie White departed in identical fashion to Charlie Morris and Barnard respectively. Sam Robson needed 27 runs to reach 1000 for the season, but after resisting for nearly two hours, Leach returned to castle him seven short as Middlesex went to lunch 81 for 5.
Only Holden stood firm as wickets tumbled around him, driving stylishly and pulling anything short to reach 50 in 83 balls with six fours. But once he departed, brilliantly caught by Daryl Mitchell at second slip the end came quickly.
Unsurprisingly, Worcestershire struggled in their turn, Mitchell nicking Murtagh through to Simpson with just 12 on the board. Jake Libby was another batsman in search of the 1000-run landmark, but he too fell short, pinned in front by Bamber, before Murtagh trapped Jack Haynes for a duck, his 50th first-class wicket of the season.
When Brett D' Oliveira drove Bamber into the hands of mid-on Worcestershire were 28 for 4 and it would have been 28 for 5 had Holden clung on to a cut from Barnard in the gully. It would be a brief reprieve as Murtagh soon found the edge and Eskinazi took a regulation catch at slip, practice for the more difficult chance he snaffled off the bowling of Bamber to send Ben Cox packing for a duck.
Gareth Roderick played well for 42, he and Leach adding 37 - the highest stand of the day - in a brief counterattack, but both fell before the close to leave honours even.