Middlesex stumble to title
Middlesex clinched the LV= County Championship Division Two title with a five-wicket win over bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire at Grace Road.
However, they made heavy weather of chasing down a victory target of 124, slumping to 90 for five by losing five wickets for 33 runs in an 11-over spell.
Wicketkeeper John Simpson and all-rounder Gareth Berg finally saw them home with a flurry of boundaries. Simpson hit six fours in his unbeaten 27 and Berg crashed two sixes and a four in a quickfire 19.
It gave Middlesex their eighth win of the season and they will be back in Division One for the first time since being relegated in 2006.
Middlesex had started the final day looking for a quick victory with Leicestershire on 227 for seven, leading by just 37 runs. But it took them 22.2 overs to claim the last three wickets with Leicestershire adding another 84.
From the moment Ned Eckersley hit the first ball of the day from Ollie Rayner to the boundary, Leicestershire showed they were not going to make things easy for Middlesex.
Eckersley and Jigar Naik shared a stand of 38 for the eighth wicket before Corey Collymore had Naik lbw. Nathan Buck then joined Eckersley in a ninth-wicket partnership of 44 to further frustrate Middlesex.
Eckersley reached his second half-century of the game off 98 balls with a six and four other boundaries before holing out to long-off as he tried another big hit against Rayner.
Buck was last man out, edging Steven Crook to first slip and Leicestershire's total of 306 left Middlesex the modest target of 124.
They looked in no trouble when Andrew Strauss and Sam Robson put on 44 in seven overs before lunch, but then a nervy collapse began soon after the interval.
Robson was trapped lbw by Naik with the total at 57 and, when Strauss was caught behind for 30 off Wayne White, who took 3-36, the nerves really kicked in.
Dawid Milan was run out for nought and White picked up two more wickets, having Jamie Dalrymple lbw and Chris Rogers caught at point as Middlesex.
However, Simpson and Berg suddenly cut loose in a sixth-wicket stand to enable the celebrations to start.