Ambition proves Worcestershire’s undoing
Captain Daryl Mitchell paid a high price for his enterprise as Worcestershire were shot out for 150 to give Middlesex an 132-run win in the LV= County Championship clash at Lord’s.
Worcestershire, regarded as one of the favourites for relegation from Division One, were well placed to hold out for a draw after the third day of a game badly hit by rain and bad light; they were 45 for two in reply to Middlesex’s 327 for seven declared overnight.
But their declaration and a Middlesex forfeiture produced a victory target of 283 which, although comfortable in terms of run-rate, proved impossible against an efficient seam attack in helpful conditions - the end coming midway through the afternoon session.
Worcestershire’s openers never looked comfortable and it was no great surprise when Michael Klinger perished in the ninth over to a clever piece of bowling from Tim Murtagh.
Expecting Murtagh’s customary away movement, Klinger offered no shot and was leg before when the ball swung back in.
Murtagh struck again in his next over, Mitchell edging a perfectly-pitched away swinger to Dawid Malan at second slip.
Worcestershire’s hopes rested on third-wicket pair Vikram Solanki and Moeen Ali, and when they fell in successive overs, leaving the score on a precarious 35 for four, Middlesex scented victory.
Andrew Strauss had dropped a straightforward slip chance late on the third evening, but accounted for both to give Gareth Berg a wicket in his second over and Toby Roland-Jones one with his fifth ball.
Worcestershire’s run-rate slipped below two an over, but left-hander James Cameron broke the shackles briefly with three crisply-struck boundaries in a Berg over which cost 15.
Berg was kept on and rewarded the faith of his captain, Chris Rogers, with a fine delivery that Matthew Pardoe, Cameron’s fifth-wicket partner, edged to John Simpson behind the stumps.
Cameron, having hit six fours in his innings of 30, became Roland-Jones’ second victim 20 minutes after lunch when he was leg before to one which moved back in.
Worcestershire’s position looked even more hopeless in the next over when Murtagh barely disturbed Ben Scott’s bails, after which David Lucas edged Roland-Jones to Malan in the slips.
A stand of 54 in 12 overs between Aneesh Kapil and Richard Jones put a slightly cheerier complexion on Worcestershire’s score.
But Steven Finn dismissed the latter, thanks to a brilliant catch in the gully by Neil Dexter, and then bowled Alan Richardson three balls later.