Two days of other commitments coinciding with two days of unsettled weather meant that rocking up to Lord’s today sees the match with Nottinghamshire nicely poised.
Notts had accrued 364 in their first innings and Middlesex reached 111/2 overnight. For Middlesex batting this season, this is something of a miracle!
Stoneman had scored the first half century of the top order this season before departing for 73 as the middle order struggled (as did Notts); lunch arrives after 31 overs with Middlesex 197/6 – still a few short of the follow on which has to be Notts aim as the forecast for tomorrow looks dire and they would need to be closing in on victory at today’s close.
But that’s all supposition. The pitch looks beige from afar, the odd ball doing something mischievous but that’s more the bowlers skill than the pitch.
It looks ideal for batting and with the weather almost spring like and warm enough to remove the first clothing layer there should be no reason why Middlesex shouldn’t get a lot closer to the Notts score – but who knows? It could all depend on who has lunched better – can Notts resist the delights of the Lord’s catering?
Notts seem to have fallen for the Lord’s lunch trick as they strain in the afternoon session to take the last few wickets. Some application by Higgins (the star of the season so far for the Middle) who goes for a half-century and by TRJ sees the follow on saved and in essence the match condemned to a draw if tomorrow’s weather is to be believed.
Middlesex manage their first batting point of the season in reaching 274ao as clouds build, the temperature drops several degrees and the new ball finished them off. A deficit of 90 is much better than first seemed likely.
By tea Notts reach 28/1 – Duckett back in the Pavilion (he always looks vulnerable early on) and a lead of 118. They need another 200 to set a decent target – assuming no rain or limited play tomorrow – and should reach that by the close which will stretch close to 7.30pm given the overs to be bowled and the rate.
After tea the temperature drops several degrees so I’m soon shivering with cold despite having four layers! Playing cricket this early is just ridiculous but I suppose it’s also that spring this year seems to be much later coming than in recent years. Both openers are back in the Pavilion for 32 and wickets fall frequently in the last session.
What is noteworthy is Bamber’s opening spell – 10 overs 5 maidens 2 for 16; very impressive on a pitch offering next to nothing.
Clarke for Notts fascinates me as his rising star status from a few years ago has seemed to crash and burn. His trigger movements are out of kilter so much that he appears to be muddled in his thinking. Closer watching suggests hyperactivity or extreme nervousness and that can’t help his batting and hence his relative decline.
By the close Notts reach 158/6 – a lead of 248. Another 50-75 tomorrow and then declare gives both sides a chance – more for Notts than Middlesex – but I suspect the weather will win! 😩