Warwickshire recorded their first win of the season as they crushed current champions Middlesex by 190 runs at Lord's on a rain-affected day in Division One.
MIDDLESEX v WARWICKSHIRE
In a remarkable end to a dramatic match, Warwickshire skittled Middlesex for 136 at Lord’s to claim their first win of the season in the Specsavers County Championship’s Division One by a thumping 190-run margin.
Chris Woakes, completing a successful comeback from a two-month injury lay-off, took 3 for 38 as he and Keith Barker, who snapped up the first three wickets and finished with 3 for 21, left the Middlesex second innings in ruins.
And all this, on a humiliating day for the champions, after Barker and Chris Wright had earlier taken their unlikely ninth-wicket partnership to 97 as Warwickshire, who resumed on 293 for 8, reached 361 in their own second innings to set Middlesex 327 to win on a pitch that had seemingly flattened out following the opening day carnage of 20 wickets.
Middlesex, it is true, were hampered by injuries to openers Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson – Gubbins was forced to come in at No 8 after tearing a hamstring in the field – but the way both their batting and bowling fell away in this game will be of great concern to them.
Warwickshire, meanwhile, though they may well remain bottom of Division One when this round of matches is done, are now only 31 points behind Middlesex – who began this game in fifth place – with five matches remaining for both counties in this summer’s campaign.
Barker ended up on 62 not out from 109 balls, with eight fours, after resuming on 30 and his stand with Wright, who made an 83-ball 41 before being caught behind off Steven Finn, flourished in a morning session in which the Middlesex bowlers huffed and puffed to little effect.
Leg spinner Nathan Sowter then earned himself a maiden first-class wicket by bowling last man Ryan Sidebottom for 1, but by then the damage done was not just to Middlesex’s morale. Gubbins, in attempting to take a sprawling catch off a top edged Barker hook as he ran in from long leg, hurt himself so badly that he had to be helped from the field by Middlesex’s medical staff.
Gubbins was unable to open, meaning Nick Compton was promoted to partner Robson, who used Sowter as a runner as he made 19 despite a leg injury before being first out. Middlesex were 20 without loss at lunch but that proved only to be the calm before the storm. The headlong collapse began at the start of the second over after the interval with Robson pinned leg-before by Barker who then, later in the same over, had Stevie Eskinazi taken at second slip for 2.
Left-armer Barker struck again in his next over, this time going around the wicket to surprise Compton with a nasty lifter that he touched to keeper Tim Ambrose to go for 3.
And 28 for 3 became 28 for 4 when Woakes nipped one off the seam to have John Simpson leg-before for 4. Ryan Higgins, after one extra cover driven four, was also leg-before to Woakes for 5 in the England all-rounder’s next over, and the same bowler soon breached James Franklin’s defences to bowl the Middlesex captain for 1.
From 45 for 6 there were a few defiant blows from Sowter, who had been joined by Gubbins and runner on Franklin’s dismissal, before his 37 ended when he turned the first ball of Sidebottom’s second over straight into the hands of short leg.
Middlesex’s tail was cleaned up by off spinner Jeetan Patel and right-arm seamer Sidebottom, who added 2 for 41 to his first innings’ 4 for 29 and completed a memorable championship debut by winning an leg-before appeal against Gubbins on 15 to finish the match. Patel had Tom Helm taken at first slip for 15 and bowled Tim Murtagh for 0 to give himself figures of 2 for 19.
A last wicket frolic by No 11 Finn and the injured Gubbins, who added a quickfire 48 with Finn playing some superb shots in his unbeaten 31, provided scant consolation for Middlesex, who for much of the first two days were clear favourites to win this game.
For Warwickshire, bowled out for just 126 at the start of the match, this was a significant victory – especially as they had lost five of their previous eight games. Bowling out Middlesex for 161 on a helter-skelter opening day kept them in the contest, and then a gritty second innings batting effort on day two took the sting out of Middlesex’s seam attack.
When day three dawned, however, with their lead a seemingly middling 258 on an easing pitch, they could not have dreamed of winning so decisively or so quickly. It is a result which could yet have ramifications for the ultimate destiny of both sides this season.
Warwickshire captain Ian Bell said: "We believe we can still stay up. We can beat anybody on our day and we are especially dangerous now because a lot of people have written us off as being relegated.
"We have a bit of a new-look team now and there’s a new energy in the dressing room. Matt Lamb, Ryan Sidebottom, Andy Umeed and Dom Sibley all played their part in this win and we have some proper players who have come in and can help to take this team forward. We are trying to shape a side not necessarily for this season but for the future, but there is still no reason we can’t start again from now."
Bell added: "It was great to see Chris Woakes come through this game so strongly, although I think he needs six more weeks with us before playing for England again! Seriously, he was a bit rusty at the start of the match but there were some good signs today when he began to hit his lengths. He did well, with ball and bat in this game."
SOMERSET v SURREY
A maiden Somerset century from Steve Davies against his former club put the hosts in a good position at the end of a rain-affected second day against Surrey at Taunton.
On a day when 33.1 overs were lost because of the weather, overnight batsmen Davies and Tom Abell extended their scores to 142 and 96 respectively as the home side ran up 436 in their first innings. Dom Bess contributed a career-best 55.
By the close, Surrey had replied with 69 for one, with Mark Stoneman unbeaten on 34, and trailed by 367 in a match that could have a significant on the fight to retain First Division status.
Somerset began the day on 234 for four and Abell, who began on 88, square drove Stuart Meaker to the boundary to move into the 90s.
The home skipper looked to be heading towards his first century of the season, when he was caught down the leg by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes off Rikki Clarke.
The partnership with Davies added 155 for the fifth wicket to take Somerset onto 251.
At the other end Davies, who set out on 68, was lucky to survive a chance down the leg side to Foakes when he edged Clarke.
Meaker then struck twice from the River End when he had Jim Allenby caught by Meaker for nine and two balls later accounted for Craig Overton, leg-before to a delivery that straightened.
Bess quickly got into his stride and his first two shots found the boundary. The 20-year-old was the perfect foil for Davies, who apart from his one lapse, batted fluently.
The ex-Surrey wicketkeeper went to his first century for Somerset when he drove Tom Curran to the mid-wicket boundary, his runs coming of 147 deliveries and containing 11 fours and one six.
By the time lunch was taken Somerset had moved onto 357 for seven, Davies unbeaten on 128 and Bess on 41.
Immediately after the break Bess came out and hit three successive boundaries off Clarke’s first over to go his maiden fifty for Somerset, which came off 66 balls and contained 10 fours.
Shortly afterwards Gareth Batty accounted for Bess, bowled by a quicker delivery after adding 110 with Davies, a new eighth-wicket partnership for Somerset against Surrey.
Davies had taken his own total onto 142 when he drove Sam Curran straight to Jason Roy at short cover leaving Somerset needing 12 more runs to reach maximum batting points.
Last man Tim Groenewald wasted no time in setting about the task and his first shot found the boundary at mid-wicket off Sam Curran. However, then the rain started to fall and the players left the field for an early tea, with Somerset on 394.
When they returned and hour and 40 minutes later Leach took the crucial single off Sam Curran to see up the 400, but Somerset weren't done yet as the last pair added 48 together before Groenewald was caught by Scott Borthwick off his own bowling for 31 off 23 balls.
With a possible 32 overs remaining in the day, Surrey had moved onto 58 when a mid-wicket mix up led to Rory Burns being run out by Tim Rouse for 30.