Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Hazare Trophy (4)
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Glamorgan 214 and 191 for 8(Lloyd 70, Byrom 47, Roland-Jones 3-46) lead Middlesex 390 (Simpson 76, Hollman 58, Harris 5-90) by 15 runs
To understand the full import of the drama we saw at Lord's in the second half of this day, one needs to remember that these are the weeks when the consequences of failure are plain. In the careless midsummer months a team can lose a match and care deeply about the loss, but the results of their defeat will not be clear until deep in September. But now we are deep in September, the month when the poetry of a season's end jostles with the prose of its league tables.
Yet the language spoken in the Glamorgan dressing-room this evening will have lacked polish of any sort. Indeed, there may have been long periods after tea when the place was filled with long silences and foul oaths. For having conceded a 176-run first-innings lead to Middlesex, David Lloyd's team had collapsed from 123 without loss to 144 for 6 and there is a powerful argument that each of the visiting batsmen had played a pretty atrocious shot, this on the afternoon when they had needed at least a few of them to be at something near their best.
Middlesex's three main seamers, Toby Roland-Jones, Tim Murtagh and Ethan Bamber had taken two wickets apiece but they will bowl far better for a tight-fisted reward. The catching had been competent, with Bamber's diving effort at square leg to get rid of Eddie Byrom three balls after tea a particular highlight. But this was a late afternoon when Glamorgan's collapse was a do-it-yourself job. And a silent dressing-room possesses its own eloquence.
The visitors had begun their second innings on an unexpectedly glorious afternoon of haze and sharp-shadowed splendour. They knew they needed to bat for perhaps most of four sessions to avoid losing this match, and with it vital ground, to one of their promotion rivals. Lloyd's team have played some fine cricket this summer, winning five of their 11 games. But their hopes of promotion rested, to some degree, on two days' batting in St John's Wood.
The stakes were similar for Middlesex. Tim Murtagh's team had controlled this game and the 104 runs their last five wickets had added this morning had given them an imposing lead. All they needed to do now was complete the job and thereby move 13 points clear of Glamorgan and 20 ahead of Derbyshire. It would be a useful advantage with just two games left in the season but there was a snag of sorts: Middlesex have won four Championship games in 2022 but none since May 22. The ECB have also played a part: Middlesex have played 11 first-class matches this season but none since July 28th, when they drew with Durham; and the home county last played at Lord's on July 22nd.
And so for at least an hour Middlesex bowled as though this was an unfamiliar field. Byrom was dropped in the slips off the first ball of the innings but virtually the rest of the session was dominated by Glamorgan's openers, with Lloyd feeding happily on some short, wide stuff to hit nine fours in his 63-ball fifty. Nine deliveries before tea, though, the Glamorgan skipper tried to guide Bamber between first and fourth slip but only steered him straight to Sam Robson in the latter position. It was a one-day jeu d'esprit and it fell flat.
As though unsettled by the loss of their skipper for 70, the rest of Glamorgan's top-order disintegrated in a riot of incompetence. Three balls after Byrom's dismissal, Sam Northeast played a horrendous flat-footed cut and the thin edge was taken by Simpson. Kiran Carlson dug in for fifty minutes with Shubman Gill before losing patience and edging an outlandish swish more suited to a battle in Lord of the Rings to Stevie Eskinazi at first slip. Billy Root's sixth ball was on an eighth-stump line but he still tried to drive it and was caught at slip by Robson off Bamber.
Glamorgan's hour of batting from the Black Museum was completed when Gill thick-edged an on-drive to Luke Hollman at point. James Harris and Chris Cooke then took their side to within a run of parity and but both fell just before the light closed in. Their only consolation was that Harris's bat was vertical when he edged Roland-Jones to Simpson and Cooke had at least toughed it out for the second time in the match when he was leg before to Higgins.
With five overs left in the day - there was no chance of the light allowing the extra eight to be claimed - the umpires took the players off. By then, Middlesex's officials had come to terms with the costs incurred by a short fourth day's play in front of a very small crowd; Glamorgan are probably reconciled to a grim Thursday, too.
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Stoneman, Robson rush to victory that cements second place in title race
Silence not so golden as Glamorgan reflect on collapse at Lord's
After conceding 176-run first-innings lead to Middlesex, visitors go from 123 for 0 to 144 for 6
Mark Stoneman, John Simpson grind Glamorgan between the showers
Limited play enhances Middlesex's hopes against promotion rival