Scott earns Middlesex narrow lead
A one-innings tussle has developed at Lord's after Ben Scott hauled Middlesex into an unlikely, narrow lead following a collapse from the top order
Derbyshire 244 and 49 for 2 lead Middlesex 262 (Scott 66, Joyce 58, Dean 4-28) by 31 runs
A one-innings tussle has developed at Lord's after Ben Scott hauled Middlesex into an unlikely, narrow lead following a collapse from the top order. Scott and Shaun Udal took Middlesex from the prospect of having a significant deficit to an advantage of 18. Two quick wickets in the final hour left the home side in a position of strength that appeared a long way away during the morning session.
Vernon Philander claimed the key wicket, Chris Rogers, with one that bounced on off stump and took the edge through to Owais Shah at slip. Rogers is the rock around which Derbyshire build, and when he goes early there is always a more brittle appearance to the order. Steve Stubbings also has the ability to build long innings, but he edged behind off Tim Murtagh as the importance of Scott's effort grew.
It was touch-and-go whether Scott would play this match. David Nash is fit again, but the decision was taken that he wasn't quite match-ready so Scott held onto his place and more than justified the call. He's typical of many wicketkeepers at the crease, slightly idiosyncratic and a frustrating batsman to bowl to. He cut and drove strongly as the Derbyshire attack slightly undid their impressive earlier efforts.
Udal has rescued Middlesex's batting more than once already this season and again contributed vital runs. They were still 72 behind when he joined Scott, but he batted with more freedom than some of his colleagues. The ninth-wicket partnership was progressing with such ease that Rikki Clarke, who is unable to bowl due to a broken thumb, had to give his men the second new ball. This did the trick, although Scott was unfortunate to get a thin edge down the leg side and he didn't appeared pleased with the decision. The innings ended next ball when Dirk Nannes lost his middle stump as Kevin Dean ended with 4 for 28.
Middlesex's innings was a mirror-image of Derbyshire's; weak at the top and stronger at the bottom. Charl Langeveldt did the early damage, knocking out Danny Evans' middle stump then claiming Shah, who aided his own demise with an ill-judged pull which sent a top edge spiralling skywards. Since his century in the opening Championship match against Leicestershire, Shah hasn't built on his starts, but here he didn't even give himself a chance to settle.
Derbyshire's 244 was looking even more substantial when Jonathan Clare - an allrounder worth keeping an eye on - trapped Ed Smith lbw and had Philander well caught in the slips off a loose drive. Clare, 21, hails from the same stomping grounds as James Anderson in Burnley, but couldn't push himself into the Lancashire set-up. This season he has taken his chances, averaging 57 with the bat and 25 with the ball in the Championship, and bowled with good pace from the Nursery End.
At 60 for 5, Middlesex were in a deep hole, but they were steadied by a pair of Irishman as Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan added 66. Joyce was batting at No. 7 because of a migraine that kept him off the field yesterday, but still looked the most in-form of the top-order. His driving was in good working order and he was quick onto anything short with his favourite pull shot.
Morgan was neat and compact during the partnership until he pushed forward at Dean and got a thin outside edge. He knew he'd nicked it and was off before the umpire raised his finger. Joyce went to his half-century off 71 balls and he needed to stay with the lower order. However, Graham Wagg, replacing Clare at the Nursery End, had him lbw as Joyce played around a straight ball. Derbyshire sniffed a first-innings lead, but had reckoned without Middlesex's resilient lower order as a close match continues to unfold.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo