Warwickshire 72 for 4 (Rhodes 36*, Murtagh 3-17) path Middlesex 121 (De Caires 40, Hannon-Dalby 5-29) by way of 49 runs
The gesture was once touching, as was once the roar of approval when he blocked his one and best supply from Chris Rushworth directly backpedal the pitch, however the timing was once a marginally discombobulating. In spite of everything, at 100 for 9 at the first day of Middlesex’s – and subsequently, probably, Murtagh’s – penultimate fit of the season, it wasn’t as though the possibility of a later, and extra terminal, discuss with to the crease was once off the desk simply but.
And but even so, there was once one thing about Middlesex’s distracted show as much as that time – even by way of the criteria in their flatlining season – that had reeked already of “receive advantages fit”. Murtagh’s inclusion, for his 264th top notch look and his 91st at Lord’s, had come on the expense of the membership captain Toby Roland-Jones, and so (excluding the rest) had additional weakened one of the vital brittle batting line-ups within the land. At the face of it, it gave the impression an bizarre second to forget about the realities in their ongoing race to the ground with Kent.
However with Kent’s personal bonus-point quest being stymied by way of Tom Lammonby and Lewis Goldsworthy down at Taunton, up stepped Murtagh for his primary tournament, and for the penultimate time on his favorite degree. Seven overs and 3 wickets later, he’d proven as soon as once more that – in bleak autumnal prerequisites and on your county’s hour of want – on occasion a undying show of ball-on-a-string seam bowling is all a staff must get again on an excellent keel.
Murtagh is 42 years outdated now, and has successfully been a Lord’s specialist this season, with 5 of his six Championship appearances now coming at HQ. However what a consultant, and the way efficient! His ten-wicket haul in opposition to Kent in April stays the important thing reason Middlesex don’t seem to be (fairly) within the relegation positions, and in this proof – regardless that Warwickshire closed the day with some extent of poise via Will Rhodes’ 36 now not out – it isn’t out of the query that Murtagh finally ends up accounting for part of Middlesex’s 4 Championship wins on this marketing campaign. There’ve been 14 wickets in this first day, in spite of everything. Even making an allowance for a two-hour rain lengthen, it is laborious to peer this one completing as a draw.
Murtagh wanted a solitary supply to sow the ones acquainted seeds of doubt, as Rob Yates flinched outdoor off to a regular supply that was once there to be hit till it was once now not. His subsequent providing was once extra inviting nonetheless, swinging around the left-hander and amassing form because it did so, to urge an unsure flat-footed minimize and a fats inside-edge into his stumps – Warwickshire have been 0 for 1 after two balls, and the sport was once indubitably afoot.
3 overs later, with only one run chiselled from his choices, Murtagh struck once more, courtesy of a excellent diving take from John Simpson, flinging himself low to his proper to scoop up a snick off Kraigg Braithwaite that was once by no means destined to succeed in the cordon. Alex Davies then flapped his 2d ball over the cordon for 4 as Murtagh hit the seam and located extravagant jump outdoor off; that shot was once nearly surely on his thoughts six balls later, as he stabbed a fats entrance pad down the road to be pinned for the plumbest lbw possible.
Even if his spell was once achieved, Murtagh’s affect was once arguably nonetheless obvious. Ethan Bamber changed him on the Nursery Finish, and duly struck along with his 2d ball – from around the wicket, with a marginally extra tempo at the back of his nip off the seam, to crash previous Dan Mousley’s defences and into his off stump. At 42 for 4, the competition was once correctly within the stability, however Rhodes and Ed Barnard quelled the risk as the sunshine light, to go away a lot more of the similar required on Wednesday – at Lord’s and at Taunton – if Middlesex are to stay their hopes alive.
If, alternatively, the worst does come to go for the membership, then there is actually no escaping the place the fault will lie. Every other sickly batting card has left them depending on a soon-to-be-retired stalwart for yet one more bail-out, or even this is not likely to be sufficient if the second one innings serves up in a similar way passive show.
In the beginning the wickets have been handed round, now not in contrast to a pet at a number one college – comfortable and moreish. Rushworth struck the primary blow, snicking Stoneman’s edge for 13, one ball after he’d caused an almighty drift outdoor off. Hannon-Dalby bagged the second one, as Sam Robson planted his entrance foot on off stump and was once stunned by way of a touch of nip again into his pads. Craig Miles then got here around the wicket to unroot Jack Davies’ off stump, prior to Ed Barnard struck one over later, condemning Ryan Higgins’ personal stump to a an identical destiny.
Barnard then made it two in 4 overs as John Simpson wafted right into a flimsy cramped minimize and feathered an edge via to Michael Burgess for a duck, as Middlesex limped to lunch, five-down and freefalling.
And as soon as the afternoon rain had abated, it was once over to Hannon-Dalby, flapping his limbs like a latter-day Bob Willis as he cantered in from the Nursery Finish, hounding a succession of tactics with high-kicking, stump-threatening line and period. Most effective De Caires, in the middle of a tremendous late-season flurry with bat and ball, discovered the gumption to withstand, with a deft scoop over the keeper amongst his 5 fours, and a flat slam into the Grandstand for 6 for just right measure. However Murtagh apart, now not too lots of his team-mates haven’t begun discovered the struggle to check their staff’s wishes.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket