Middlesex hit back after Westwood ton
Warwickshire were surprisingly knocked off course at Edgbaston after building a powerful position with Ian Westwood’s second LV= County Championship hundred against Middlesex in 19 days.
Having cruised past 200 with only two wickets down in response to 287, the Division One leaders were pegged back to 293 for eight – a slender leader of six – when a downpour halted a new-ball burst by resilient Middlesex.
Toby Roland-Jones took 3-16 in five overs and Tim Murtagh claimed the big prize when Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton was caught at second slip for 50.
Up to then, it had been Westwood’s day. If his recent 111 at Uxbridge was attritional – he took blows on the head, finger, ribs, thigh and thumb – here he was able to enjoy a more relaxed passage to 120.
Over his career, the 30-year-old left hander has developed a reputation as a gritty cricketer, but this was Westwood in a refreshingly positive mood, pinging his shots around the ground, particularly in the 15-minute period after lunch.
In the space of 11 deliveries, he stroked five boundaries in moving from 70 to 91. But, with a ninth championship century in touching distance, he used up 22 more balls to reach three figures with a four past midwicket off Roland-Jones.
Earlier in the year, Westwood was the batsman who had to stand down when England made Ian Bell available for four championship appearances, but a strong finish is transforming his season. In his last five innings, he has scored 381 runs at average of 76.20.
Middlesex had to wait until the 46th over before breaking his fourth century stand of the summer with Varun Chopra, who hit 56.
After some problems in the morning – Westwood got away with a streaky shot over the slips on 28 - they put on 175 before Sam Robson held a chance from Chopra at gully off the first ball of Gareth Berg’s second spell.
Until the wicket, it seemed likely that Middlesex would be buried under a mountain of runs, but, in keeping with recent spirited performances in games that went to the wire, their bowlers reined back the title favourites.
Left-arm spinner Ravi Patel had Will Porterfield caught at slip for his first championship wicket and Neil Dexter, Middlesex’s first-day century-maker, was the bowler when Westwood, having hit 17 fours, drove to mid-off.
Medium-pacer Dexter had the handy figures of 2-30 after Darren Maddy’s dismissal, smartly taken by Steven Crook in the gully, and Warwickshire were still 22 behind when the new ball accelerated Middlesex’s recovery.
In seven deliveries, Roland-Jones fired out Rikki Clarke and Tim Ambrose, both caught by promising keeper Adam Rossington, and the paceman then trapped Ian Blackwell lbw immediately after the on-loan all-rounder had put Warwickshire in front.