RESULT
Nottingham, September 26 - 29, 2023, County Championship Division One
366 & 224/6d
(T:207) 384 & 210/8

Notts won by 2 wickets

Report

Ben Slater century leaves Middlesex survival hopes looking bleak

Kent have the edge on bonus points, meaning victory at Trent Bridge could be only hope of staying up

Ben Slater pulls the ball away  •  Getty Images

Ben Slater pulls the ball away  •  Getty Images

Middlesex 366 (Higgins 137, Eskinazi 58, Yadav 56, Hutton 5-94) and 10 for 0 trail Nottinghamshire 384 (Slater 140, Clarke 70) by 8 runs
Relegation will surely feel likelier than survival for Middlesex as they contemplate the final day of the LV=Insurance County Championship season, having failed to take the upper hand against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Anchored by opener Ben Slater's authoritative 140, a vigil spanning more than seven hours, Nottinghamshire posted 384 in their first innings in reply to Middlesex's 366, Joe Clarke (70) and Matt Montgomery (52) playing the biggest supporting roles, supplemented by useful late runs from Calvin Harrison and Brett Hutton.
Off-spinner Josh De Caires finished with three for 56 as Middlesex took maximum bowling points to go with their three for batting.
Yet after picking up seven in total against Lancashire and a first-innings lead of 167 in Canterbury, Kent have the upper hand in the scrap to dodge the final Division One relegation spot, and should now need only to avoid defeat to finish ahead of Middlesex.
Bad light cost another 19 overs from the match schedule at Trent Bridge, leaving Middlesex - 10 behind with all wickets in hand - to contemplate offering Nottinghamshire a particularly generous target if they are to have any chance of taking 10 wickets in the last innings to win the match.
Their ambitions would have been better served had they managed to conjure a more productive morning with the ball after Nottinghamshire resumed on 92 for two.
In the event, the home side had advanced to 201 for three in 31 overs by lunch, the session as a whole suggesting that even if Middlesex were to reach a position to dangle a carrot, they would have only an outside chance of success.
Ethan Bamber and Toby Helm found it difficult to make much happen on a slow pitch and Slater and Clarke feasted readily on any width, the former going to fifty from 93 balls with the first scoring shot of the morning, cut to the offside boundary for his ninth four.
Clarke completed his half-century from 114 balls with seven fours, having completed his 1,000 first-class runs for the season when he reached 39, his first time to that milestone since 2016, when he announced himself as a batter of outstanding potential by scoring six centuries for Worcestershire.
He was not able to add to his 20 hundreds in total, out for 70 when he was beaten by a ball from Jayant Yadav, the Indian off-spinner, that did not bounce as he expected, beating his attempt to whip it through mid-wicket and striking him a couple of inches below the knee roll on the back pad.
The partnership with Slater, whom he'd joined at 35 for two, added 134, after which Slater was outpaced by Montgomery, who had been scratching for runs in 10 innings since posting a career-best 177 against Essex in May but found a measure of that form in reaching 50 from 48 balls, as the fourth wicket put on 70.
Montgomery was dismissed by De Caires, who had his first bowl of the day immediately after lunch and struck in his fifth over, beating Montgomery on the outside as the right-hander strode down the wicket, handing John Simpson a routine stumping.
Now Middlesex did begin to find the inroads that had proved elusive, Tom Helm finding a thin edge as Tom Moores drove expansively in the next over.
Slater went to his hundred, his second of the campaign, from 208 balls, but when Lyndon James chopped on to Yadav, Nottinghamshire were in a spot of bother at 274 for six, still 92 in arrears.
Harrison, the leg-spinning all-rounder, frustrated Middlesex by sticking around for 25 overs, yet he departed in the last over before tea, caught behind tickling one down the leg-side from Toby Roland-Jones. The visitors smelt an opportunity with the deficit still 47.
With Hutton for company, Slater wiped that out in the next 10 overs before the pull shot that had accounted for a good proportion of his 20 boundaries finally let him down and he was caught on the midwicket boundary.
Hutton holed out off De Caires, Roland-Jones taking a well-judged catch at mid-off, before Jake Ball departed thanks to an even-better snare at deep point, but instead of the first-innings lead they had craved, Middlesex found themselves 18 runs behind.

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County Championship Division One
TEAMMWLDPT
SURR14824216
ESSEX14734196
HANTS14842192
WARKS14644179
LANCS143110161
NOTTS14446151
SOM14347148
KENT14275111
MIDDX14392104
NHNTS1428496