Denly ton boosts Middlesex
Joe Denly struck an accomplished maiden hundred for Middlesex to give them the upper hand on the penultimate day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Worcestershire at Lord’s.
Denly, a winter signing from Kent, made an unbeaten 134 off 197 balls, allowing the hosts to declare on 327 for seven and leave Worcestershire 29 overs to negotiate.
Middlesex missed the chance for an early breakthrough when Andrew Strauss dropped Michael Klinger at slip before he had scored.
But he and Daryl Mitchell were eventually dismissed before bad light brought an early close with Worcestershire on 45 for two.
Denly, unbeaten on 34 as Middlesex began the day 148 for two, dispatched Alan Richardson’s first two balls for crisp boundaries.
Yet he and third-wicket partner Chris Rogers struggled thereafter against the impressive veteran seamer.
Rogers survived a confident leg-before shout, but fell soon afterwards to left-armer David Lucas, wicketkeeper Ben Scott claiming a catch low to his left.
Richardson was then rewarded with two wickets in successive balls; Dawid Malan sliced to slip, where Vikram Solanki took the catch, and Neil Dexter shouldered arms to have his off stump plucked out.
Denly, having worked Lucas elegantly through midwicket, reached his fifty off 94 balls with an off-driven four.
Rain and bad light allowed only 40 overs on the first two days, and light drizzle set in again 45 minutes before the scheduled lunch to send the players off again.
The action resumed at 2.45pm, John Simpson soon edging Richardson to Scott. Denly and Gareth Berg did their best to make up for lost time in an enterprising seventh-wicket stand of 88 in 21 overs, though.
Denly, who continued to mix moments of fortune with high-class attacking shots, reached an 153-ball hundred with two on-driven fours in three balls from the wayward Richard Jones, and Berg became the deserving Richardson’s fifth victim against his former team-mates.
Middlesex’s declaration followed soon afterwards, Denly remaining unbeaten after pulling Richardson, who finished with 5-89, for six to complement his 19 fours.
Murtagh, the unlucky bowler when Strauss spared Klinger, dismissed Mitchell in the 14th over when the Worcestershire captain clipped tamely to Neil Dexter at midwicket.
Six runs later, Toby Roland-Jones found extra lift to take the shoulder of Klinger’s bat, the ball looping to gully for Sam Robson to pouch the simplest of catches.
The players went off for bad light before new man Moeen Ali faced a ball.