Veteran Murtagh puts Middlesex on top against Somerset
- Credit: PA
Veteran paceman Tim Murtagh claimed four wickets as Middlesex got the upper hand on day two of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Somerset at Lord’s.
In continuing uncertain times, 39-year-old Murtagh proved his reassuringly reliable self, returning figures of four for 46 and with his heir apparent at Middlesex Ethan Bamber contributing 3-24, the visitors were bowled out for 172.
That gave the hosts a lead of 141 after they earlier posted 313, with Lewis Gregory taking five for 68, but that advantage would have been greater were it not for a last-wicket stand of 83 between Marchant De Lange, who made 51, and England spinner Jack Leach which saved the follow on.
Middlesex then reached 87 for 2 by stumps, a lead of 228.
Last season’s Bob Willis Trophy finalists were soon in trouble in the face of some bewitching new-ball bowling from Murtagh and Bamber.
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Murtagh made the first incision having Tom Lammonby caught behind off an inside edge and the old warhorse struck again when Tom Abell steered a ball speared into him into the hands of Sam Robson at slip.
Bamber then took over castling Tom Banton with a beauty and when George Bartlett poked another probing ball to a diving Simpson the visitors were 17 for 4.
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James Hildreth looked calm amid the carnage, only for Bamber to trap him in front with the first ball after lunch and with Toby Roland-Jones accounting for Steve Davies and Craig Overton Somerset slumped to 81-9 before the last pair came together.
De Lange found a staunch ally in Leach and the pair struck the ball confidently from the outset.
Leach was dropped by Robson at slip on 18, allowing De Lange to launch an onslaught, culminating in a huge six over long-on that saved the follow-on.
Martin Andersson finally ended the revelry, by bowling De Lange, but not before he’d reached 50 from 49 balls.
Max Holden and first innings centurion Robson fell cheaply, but Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi added 75 for the third wicket before bad light ended play 10 overs early.
The action took place amid the sombre news of the death this morning of The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, a former MCC President. Flags were flown at half-mast and two minutes silence was observed before the start of the afternoon session.
Middlesex seamer Bamber said: "When you have a side at 90-9 you can always be guilty of wanting everything in terms of them being out for under 100, but if you’d given us getting them for 172 we’d have taken it for sure.
"Me taking the new ball is something we have talked about through pre-season. I’m flattered I got the chance today, but it may be different in the next innings depending on conditions.
"I wish I could take more credit for the Banton wicket, but I just try and put it in the right areas and sometimes it does a bit more than at others. It’s a big slope.
"It was a big celebration and I feel a bit stupid watching those back, but it is just in the moment isn’t it."
Somerset's De Lange said of his 50 on debut: "There are mixed emotions, but wherever I can contribute to the team whether with bat or ball, that’s what I want to do.
"I try and keep my batting simple as in see ball hit ball and that’s paid off in the past. I’m obviously a tail-ender, so I don’t want to overthink it.
"I wasn’t thinking about the follow-on. I was just trying to contribute. ‘Leachy’ is a proper number 11 and has unbelievable technique so hats off to him.
"The game’s not over. We’ve got to take eight more poles and hopefully get ourselves back in the game."