With the weather set to be ‘reasonable’ for today and tomorrow, the prospects for the Middlesex v Essex match at Lord’s look good as does the score line – more perhaps from an Essex perspective. A lead of 96 on first innings bodes well.
The third innings of any match is regarded as the most important as it either sets the target to chase or sees the trailing team trying to catch up. And so today – the third day – coincides with the third innings.
Murtagh for once was not offered the new ball but struck as first change taking care of Browne and Westley, Higgins dispatching Sir A in what could be his last outing at Lord’s?
Lunch – after 130 minutes – sees Essex at 103/3 – lead close to 200 – with Lawrence looking to be more adventurous in his shots (bazballing dare one say?) and partnered by Critchley. The question to pose is what sort of target will Essex set? There’s close to 170 overs left in the match so time is not really an issue – I suspect 400 but Essex need to give themselves at least three sessions.
Tea arrives a few minutes late with Essex 210/8 – in essence 5 for 107 in the session. Other than Critchley no real innings of note. The lead is now 306…probably enough but who knows?
Murtagh has nipped four out so far and after a relatively poor performance in the first innings he’s come good. If Middlesex can roll the last two off quickly after tea, they’ve four sessions to make 300+ but they need a much better start than yesterday.
All to play for but Essex must be favourites?
And so if came to pass…eight balls after tea and Essex end on 211. One fell to Hollman, the other Helm – all for one run! Middlesex need 308 to win off 38 overs today plus a minimum of 96 tomorrow. Surely they can’t bat as badly again?
Well…not quite! Stoneman goes for a pair, Robson for 3 and Malan (P) for 4…going from 4 for 2 to 15 for 3. Great bowling by the Essex quicks but a dire lack of footwork from any of the Middlesex bats. Looks as if it’s only going one way from here!
The fourth fell at 41 and in essence survival was the order of the day. Middlesex closed on 77/5 – still 230 adrift but with half the side back in the Pavilion.
Day 3 was the deciding day; my decision for Day 4 is to watch on line as I doubt there’ll be much action and my journey to Lord’s would be ‘enhanced’ by rail engineering works adding 40% to travel times each way!