December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Middlesex’s mathematical chances of winning the LV= County Championship’s Division One title were further damaged by bad weather and Nottinghamshire’s Steven Mullaney at Lord’s.
When bad light and then a fine drizzle ruled out most of the opening day’s final session, Mullaney was on 88 not out in a Nottinghamshire first-innings score of 161 for two.
During an attritional 69.1 overs’ cricket, third-placed Middlesex had no bowling bonus points and only the wickets of Riki Wessels, for 14, and Michael Lumb, for 54, to show for earlier asking Nottinghamshire to bat under cloudy skies.
It was a decision at the toss which did not pay off for Middlesex captain Chris Rogers, although his bowlers were unfortunate not to enjoy more success in conditions which made run-scoring a tough job.
Mullaney and Lumb battled through 51 overs to grind out a second-wicket partnership of 115, with even England Twenty20 specialist Lumb taking 135 balls to reach 50 and then another 36 balls to add four more runs before he skied a sweep at off spinner Ollie Rayner to deep square leg.
James Taylor then faced three balls from Rayner before an initial short bad light delay, and another six balls from him in the 2.1 more overs bowled before the light intervened again at 4.25pm for what proved to be the last time - light rain then arriving just before play was called off for the day at 5pm.
Rayner, who had match figures of 15 for 118 when Middlesex trounced Surrey in last week’s London derby at the Oval, took one for 18 from 13 overs while only James Harris of the Middlesex quicker bowlers failed to keep a tight rein on the scoring rate.
Mullaney, the 26-year-old all-rounder who has impressed when used as an opener in four-day cricket this season, took 133 balls to complete his half-century and will resume on day two just 12 runs short of a fifth first-class ton having faced 193 balls.
There were 10 fours from Mullaney amid his primarily defensive approach, and the right-hander took full advantage of surviving a close run-out appeal when he took a sharp single from the third delivery of the game and ended up earning five runs as the ball ran away to the boundary after a throw had shattered the stumps at the bowler’s end.
Mullaney and Wessels put on 43 for the first wicket, before Wessels drove airily at Neil Dexter’s medium pace and edged to second slip, and Lumb was beaten on numerous occasions by Gareth Berg, swinging and seaming the ball down the Lord’s slope away from the left-hander, as he and Mullaney laboured through 156 balls to bring up their 50 partnership.
Yet their determination to fight for survival mirrored Nottinghamshire’s own desire to gain enough points from this match to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.
They began the game just seven points ahead of seventh-placed Derbyshire, though with a match in hand on the two counties immediately below them, and succeeded in frustrating Middlesex, who have to win both their last two championship fixtures of the season if they are to have any chance of pipping Durham and Yorkshire to the title.