Middlesex collapse to put Leicestershire back in contention

Surrey celebrate taking wicket during the Vitality Blast T20 match at the Kia Oval, London. Picture

Surrey celebrate taking wicket during the Vitality Blast T20 match at the Kia Oval, London. Picture date: Friday June 25, 2021. - Credit: PA

Leicestershire seamer Will Davis bowled his side back into contention on the second day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash against Middlesex with season’s-best figures of five for 66.

Davis, who had gone wicketless the previous day as Middlesex amassed 280 for three at Merchant Taylors’ School, sliced through the lower and middle order to prompt a collapse to 324 all out.

In response, home captain Tim Murtagh collected two early Leicestershire wickets before his opposite number Colin Ackermann righted the ship with a patient undefeated half-century.

Ackermann had reached 65 not out, with the visitors on 174 for five, when bad light forced the players from the field.

It was Abidine Sakande who triggered the procession of Middlesex wickets, bringing one back to hit Joe Cracknell’s front pad in the third over of the day before Davis took centre stage.

The Foxes paceman got the ball moving sufficiently to remove Robbie White and then Sam Robson, whose seven-hour innings of 154 came to an end as Josh Inglis took a diving catch behind the stumps.

Davis swiftly mopped up the Middlesex tail, dismissing James Harris and Nathan Sowter in successive overs and completing his five-for when Murtagh skied one into the hands of mid-off.

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However, Murtagh struck back immediately at the start of the Leicestershire reply, with Sam Evans picking out Sowter at cover in the opening over before Lewis Hill was lbw to a delivery that kept low.

Marcus Harris – who shared a 243 partnership with Ackermann when the Foxes chased down 378 to beat Middlesex at home earlier in the season – looked in good nick again, producing a string of boundary drives in his brisk 31.

The Australian left-hander departed when namesake James Harris persuaded him to edge behind, but Ackermann, who took 23 balls before getting off the mark, proved harder for Middlesex to shift.

He built a fruitful stand of 97 with the more pugnacious Inglis, who looked set to overtake his skipper to a half-century, but was left one short as he lost his off stump to Ethan Bamber on the stroke of tea.

That was Bamber’s sole reward for two impressive spells, but Sowter held a sharp catch at midwicket to cut off Harry Swindells’ powerful drive and secure a third wicket for Murtagh before the rapidly darkening sky brought play to a close.

Middlesex opener Sam Robson, who top-scored with 154, said: “It was pleasing to get a big score and help put us in a decent position – that’s what you’ve got to do as a top-order batsman.

“Early season you know you’re going to get some low-scoring ones, so when you get in and conditions are in your favour, you’ve got to try and make it count.

“We’re probably a bit disappointed things didn’t go according to plan this morning but we know that generally it doesn’t get easier here and maybe a little bit more happened today which is promising.

“So if we can bowl well again in the morning with the second new ball, knock them over and bat well second dig, it’ll be well set up.”

Leicestershire bowler Will Davis who took five for 66, his best figures of the season, said: “It did seem to move a little bit more this morning than perhaps it did yesterday and there’s definitely enough there to get you interested as a bowler.

“I feel like we bowled better than 280 for three (suggested) yesterday and didn’t quite get the rewards we deserved, but we just stuck at it, kept bashing away and we were able to finish it off quite quickly.

“I feel like I’ve bowled pretty well. I’ve just tried to stay in the mindset of ‘keep doing the same things and eventually it’s going to turn’.

“If we can get close to them or even go past them, then we’ve got to keep believing we can bowl them out again and see what we’d need fourth innings. The footmarks are really dry, which could potentially bring Parky (spinner Callum Parkinson) into the game.”