Aug 5 2012 By Jon Batham
MIDDLESEX V WARWICKSHIRE DAY THREE Middlesex 402 & 104-3 Warwickshire 324 Middlesex lead by 182 with seven second innings wickets standing
AN INTRIGUING finish is still possible in Middlesex’s County Championship clash with Warwickshire at Uxbridge today despite the largely dour action on day three.
Middlesex take a lead of 182 into the last three sessions thanks to an unbeaten 45 from club captain Neil Dexter after some late enterprise from the hosts in stark contrast to the turgid approach of the league leaders in the 60 overs up until tea.
Resuming on 177-2 with Ian Westwood (89) and Jim Troughton (60) well set, the Bears adopted a safety first tactic which might yet be seen to have cost them valuable points in the race for the title.
The loss of Troughton without adding to his overnight score, caught behind off the bowling of Gareth Berg in the last over before the second new ball was due, may go some way to accounting for the cautious approach.
Westwood duly ground his way to a first championship century of the season off 270 balls with 11 fours before he edged one from the excellent Tim Murtagh into the safe hands of Dawid Malan at first slip.
Darren Maddy also fell before lunch after slashing Steven Crook into the hands of Berg at deep backward point.
So tentative were Warwickshire they finished their first 110 overs at 271-5 and therefore failed to claim a third batting point and once Tim Ambrose edged Murtagh to Malan at slip their innings petered out.
Dexter removed both Rikki Clarke and Jeetan Patel in a frugal spell of medium pace, the former to a catch by the much relieved Ollie Rayner following the two he dropped during Thursday’s play.
Berg then uprooted Chris Wright’s off-stump and Rayner chipped in with the last wicket when Boyd Rankin slogged a skier to Malan at deep mid-on.
With a lead of 78 Denly came out firing only to glove a reckless pull shot to Ambrose behind the stumps when he had made just 16.
Chris Rogers failed for the second time in the match when Maddy pinned him LBW and first innings centurion Malan also fell before the close, poking a ball which bounced a bit on him from spinner Patel to Will Porterfield at second slip.
Dexter however struck seven fours in a much more confident looking innings than his first of the match on Wednesday.
A positive result now hinges on either a Middlesex collapse or an enterprising declaration by the hosts, a situation tailor-made perhaps for their other batsman not out overnight Eoin Morgan.
England’s one-day star will certainly have to show more ambition than his Warwickshire counterparts to stop spectators at Gatting Way settling for a seat in the clubhouse in front of the Olympics in search of more entertainment.