Warwickshire settle for draw
Warwickshire moved eight points clear at the top of LV= County Championship Division One after last-day rain sentenced their their duel with Middlesex at Uxbridge to a draw.
All results possible going into the final day with Middlesex set to resume on 104 for three, 182 ahead overall. But the teams were frustrated by a string of torrential downpours, which washed out the morning session.
No play before lunch meant that only collusion between the captains or some excellent cricket, out of kilter with the mundane fare which had largely passed on the previous three days, could prise the match out of stalemate. Neither was forthcoming.
The home side extended their second innings to 181 for six before declaring at tea. That left Warwickshire requiring an implausible 260 from 40 overs and they cantered to 78 for one from 27 before the shaking of hands.
With both teams taking eight points from the match, Middlesex consolidated their position in mid-table while Warwickshire returned to the summit without playing like champions. It was a patchy display from the leaders, who have not won in five championship games now after four rain-affected draws and a defeat.
After the morning deluges, it looked for all the world like a 'no play today' scenario but, to the great credit of the Uxbridge groundstaff, play began at 1:45pm. The spectators wondered whether a deal might have been done to set up a chase, but it quickly became clear that was not the case as Chris Woakes and Chris Wright took up to the attack to normal fields faced by normal batting.
Wright struck a quick blow when, for the second time in the match, Eoin Morgan flashed loosely outside off stump and edged into the cordon. Neil Dexter reached a half-century from 108 balls, including seven fours, and John Simpson attacked his way to 18 before lifting Wright to deep square-leg where Boyd Rankin took a good low catch.
Jeetan Patel's introduction was met by immediate aggression from Dexter, who lifted him straight for six. The spinner enjoyed success in his next over, though, when Gareth Berg also looked for six but found only Rankin in the leg-side outfield.
Dexter advanced to a season's best unbeaten 84 before the tea-time pullout.
The travelling fans wondered if their team might have at least an exploratory flirt with the chase, but it was not to be.
Openers Varun Chopra and Will Porterfield added a prosaic 47 from 15 overs before the latter cut a long-hop from spinner Ollie Rayner to Berg at point. That brought in captain Jim Troughton to take part in the final throes of a match which will not linger in the memory.