Rain rescues Warwickshire
Division One leaders Warwickshire needed a helping hand from the weather in escaping with a draw versus Middlesex in the LV= County Championship at Edgbaston.
Set a distant target of 367 after prising out Middlesex for 412, they lost half their side for 86 but struggled through to 152 for seven with an hour lost to drizzle and the last 40 minutes chalked off because of bad light.
The way the game slipped away from them after an opening partnership of 175 on the second day was in many ways a throwback to a performance that undermined their bid for the Division One crown last August.
Then, they crashed to a 209-run defeat by Hampshire after holding a first-innings lead of 109 and ultimately finished 11 points behind champions Lancashire.
A similar situation was developing against Middlesex as the visitors overturned a smaller deficit and then set their bowlers to work.
The new-ball attack removed the first pair in quick succession. First-innings centurion Ian Westwood was well caught behind by Adam Rossington in Tim Murtagh’s third over and, seven balls later, Varun Chopra drove Toby Roland-Jones to mid-on.
Rookie spinner Ravi Patel then claimed the wicket of Will Porterfield for the second time when the impressive Rossington stumped the Ireland batsman.
Darren Maddy’s long run without a fifty continued when he was leg-before to Gareth Berg, but skipper Jim Troughton toughed it out for 42 after needing treatment when hit on the forearm by a ball from Steven Crook.
Tim Ambrose had earlier damaged a knuckle while keeping wicket, but was given the all-clear after an X-ray and went out to bat when Rikki Clarke was lbw to one that nipped back from Roland-Jones.
After a mid-afternoon hold-up, the light was too bad for Middlesex to use their quicker bowlers but Patel kept them in the hunt with 3-60. Troughton gloved a catch to Rossington on the leg-side and Ian Blackwell drilled the ball back to the bowler to depart for 23.
However, Middlesex could not dislodge Ambrose and Keith Barker, who faced 44 balls for three runs with the former making 33. They ensured that Warwickshire marginally increased their lead at the top of the table to 12 points after Sussex’s victory bid at Taunton was also halted by rain.
Middlesex’s hard-nosed in approach in batting all the way in the second innings used up 11 overs at the start of the day.
Dawid Malan eventually went for 140, driving loosely outside off stump after a stand of 105 with Berg, who swatted a catch to cover after making 78 - his first half-century of the season.
Both fell to Chris Wright, who took 5-119, and Boyd Rankin picked up two more wickets for a return of 5-78.