Jun 29 2011 By Jon Batham
Andrew Strauss Image 1
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP - DAY THREE: Gloucester 459-9 Middlesex 283-7
ANDREW Strauss’ quest for a return to form will have to wait a little longer.
The England captain was looking for a morale-boosting score and valuable time in the middle after a dismal series against Sri Lanka recently, but the third day of the Lord’s tenants’ crucial County Championship game with Gloucestershire on a flat track at Uxbridge brought no relief.
Strauss lasted just seven balls before failing to get properly forward to a Jon Lewis delivery which came back a fraction off the seam and trapped him LBW for just two.
To add to the opener’s misery it was the seventh ball of the opening over as there had earlier been a no-ball.
In the wake of Strauss’ demise Chris Rogers hit a classy century, but with those around him tossing their wickets away with abandon the hosts face a desperate fight to save both the follow-on and the match on the final day tomorrow.
Back at the start of the day the visitors declined to declare at their overnight score of 402-7 and went in search of quick runs.
Centurion Ian Cockbain was dropped by Simpson off the third ball of the day bowled by Tim Murtagh, but the miss wasn’t costly as the wicketkeeper grabbed the next chance which came his way to remove the middle-order batsman for 127, Collymore the successful bowler.
Lewis continued to a career-best 71, beating his previous highest of 62 set back in 1999, before the declaration came.
Inspired by his batting Lewis claimed Strauss’ scalp, but Middlesex moved to 75 with few problems before Sam Robson flashed wildly at a wide delivery from Saxelby and was caught behind.
Scott Newman (23) later followed the young opener’s example, when, having added 50 with Rogers and just hit Jack Taylor for two fours, he threw the bat once more and holed out to Kane Williamson at mid-off.
Skipper Neil Dexter joined Rogers and these two appeared to have steered the Seaxes to a position of comfort at 211-3 only to then throw his wicket away with a rash hook shot straight down the throat of Taylor at deep square leg.
And the disease spread to John Simpson, who having also done the hard work of getting in chipped another careless shot to mid-wicket, leaving Middlesex in the precarious position of 253-5.
Things only got worse as Steven Crook, perhaps worried about joining the rash shot brigade was bowled by Will Gidman playing no shot at all, and Tom Smith was soon back in the hutch falling LBW to Taylor for just five. It left Middlesex still 50 short of the follow on target.
Rogers stood firm amid the carnage, hitting 15 fours and two sixes in his 125 not out, and found an ally in Murtagh as 23 more were ticked off before the close.
The destiny of the match rests on the first half hour tomorrow - or a return to form for the England captain at the second time of asking.