Lord's, September 09 - 12, 2014, LV= County Championship Division One
377 & 294
(T:396) 276 & 254

Durham won by 141 runs


Captain Fantastic lifts Durham again

This match turned into relegation scrap on the third day with small advances from both sides. Fluent batting was at a premium as a significant canopy of cloud encouraged the Middlesex bowlers.

Middlesex 276 and 44 for 1 require a further 352 to beat Durham 377 and 294 (Muchall 74*, Collingwood 58, Murtagh 5-86)
This match turned into relegation scrap on the third day with small advances from both sides. Fluent batting was at a premium as a significant canopy of cloud encouraged the Middlesex bowlers. But just when Durham were struggling, Captain Fantastic was on hand once again.
Durham do not have to contemplate life without Paul Collingwood for at least one more year after he signed on for another season but sometime in the not-too-distant future, there will be no Collingwood recovery.
Two years ago Durham were Out for the count when we're down as Elton John sung, only for Collingwood to retake the captaincy, rescue his side from relegation and, after the Chester-le-Street boardroom LP had played out Someone saved my life tonight, led them to another Championship title last season.
Here, Durham's chance to dominate a match where victory should ensure their Division One safety was drifting away before Collingwood made a robust half-century and the lower-order rallied to take Durham far into the lead. It was more Collingwood-like that for the second time in the match after a first-innings 59, he did not go on to make a more eye-catching total. The contribution was just enough and perfectly timed.
The third day at Lord's was murkier and cooler - more Durham really, and Collingwood settled in to ensure his side held the whip hand tight. It was 19 balls before he got off the mark with a boundary off Tim Murtagh. He combined resolute defence in the most testing conditions of this match with aggression when it was required - including three sixes over the short boundary - to wrestle the initiative back from the hosts who sensed a way back into the match after two days of cricket as tired as the Lord's square.
Had Collingwood been held on 12 by Dawid Malan diving to his right at second slip, Middlesex could have been on their way to a target after tea. Instead, they saw Captain Fantastic in the next over pull Steven Finn into the Tavern Stand and drive him through the covers before adding another six into the Mound Stand. A slog sweep into the Tavern off Ollie Rayner raised his fifty in 70 balls.
It appeared the Captain and the Kid had stepped into the ring as Collingwood and Ben Stokes played carefully for a partnership of 40 after lunch but the captain's Brown Dirt Cowboy was Gordon Muchall, who finished undefeated on 74 - just his second score over fifty of the season - and shared with Collingwood a stand of 79 at four-an-over to push the lead over 300. Muchall was also dropped, to a very sharp chance in the gully on 28, but initially guided by his skipper, kicked Durham on with the lower order, including John Hastings' punchy 28.
Durham began the day a comfortable 129 ahead with eight wickets in hand but lost both Phil Mustard and Mark Stoneman within seven overs - both caught behind off Murtagh. And when Borthwick was held very well by wicketkeeper John Simpson diving low to his left, Murtagh had a fourth wicket and Durham were five down only 200 ahead.
But again Middlesex could not put the hammer down. There was much better support for Murtagh this time. Roland-Jones in particular was unlucky to only pick up Stokes lbw and No. 10 Chris Rushworth slapping to cover, having beaten the bat so many times during the day. Three times in three balls he defeated Hastings and he stood in the middle of the wicket, shoulders slumped, as if his wing mirror had been clipped and shattered.
It was perhaps indicative of Middlesex's attack throughout the season. Thought potent enough to perhaps deliver a title challenge they have leaned on Murtagh heavily again. This time he took four of the first five wickets to fall and later returned to have Hastings caught at cover to complete a fourth 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket. His second five-for of the match took him past 50 wickets in a season for the sixth time in seven years. He has been awarded a benefit for 2015.
Somewhat unfortunately for Middlesex they eventually bowled Durham out with a tricky 13 overs left in the day - about the time a declaration would have come anyway - and an interruption for bad light split those into two mini sessions.
In the first, Hastings swung one up the slope to have Chris Rogers lbw for 4. He made an unbeaten 241 when Middlesex chased a ridiculous 472 to beat Yorkshire here in April. The miracle worker was gone. In the second, Sam Robson played a confident punch down the ground, cut two boundaries and took four more fours off his hip to suggest this time he could lead Middlesex's heroics on day four.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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LV= County Championship Division One