Middlesex 87 for 7 (Raine 3-12) trail Durham 147 (Handscomb 54, Finn 4-41) by 60 runs
Ben Raine and Steven Finn led the clatter of wickets as bowlers ran amok on the first day of the Specsavers County Championship clash between Middlesex and Durham at Lord’s.
Former England Test star Finn bowled with real pace and aggression to bundle the visitors out for 147, only for Raine to respond with 3 for 12 to leave Middlesex’s reply in tatters at 87 for 7, still 60 in arrears.
Australia batsman Peter Hanscomb showed runs could be made with a fluent half-century for Durham, but his innings apart, this September pitch proved a graveyard for batsmen.
For more than an hour, Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan would have been questioning his decision to bowl first after winning the toss as Cameron Steel and Alex Lees looked untroubled against the new ball. Steel in particular was in fluent form, stroking a glorious cover drive off Seaxes’ debutant Miguel Cummins before riding a lifting ball from Finn to square cut it to the fence.
However, James Harris’ trapping of Lees lbw in an impressive opening spell signalled the start of the bowlers’ dominance. Just six balls later, Finn bowled Steel off an inside edge and when Cummins claimed Angus Robson caught at slip for a duck from the first ball of his second spell, three wickets had fallen for three runs in 27 deliveries.
And Tim Murtagh made the visitors’ lunch all the more indigestible when he found the edge of Gareth Harte’s bat to give wicketkeeper John Simpson his first catch of the innings from the last ball before the interval.
The trend was set and wickets continued to tumble on the resumption. Murtagh, by now in his familiar groove from the Nursery End, trapped Scott Steel lbw and Finn followed suit to send Durham skipper Ned Eckersley on his way. Harris then accounted for Raine courtesy of a stunning catch by Sam Robson, and Brydon Carse nicked Finn through to Simpson.
Hanscomb looked a class above all else on show, standing firm to reach his fifty in 66 balls with nine fours. Murtagh though retuned to castle him as the last three wickets fell for no addition to the score.
Any celebrations in the home dressing room would be short-lived however as Nick Gubbins fell lbw to Carse without a run on the board. Eskinazi rode his luck to make 24 before Nathan Rimmington spread-eagled his stumps and then it was time for Chris Rushworth.
He accounted for Robson with a beauty which committed the batsman to the shot, the ball taking the edge for Eckersley to pouch the catch. His second scalp proved the better bowler you are the luckier you get as Max Holden, back in Middlesex ranks for the first time in four Championship games, flicked a ball crisply off his legs, but straight to Harte at square leg.
Another returnee for the hosts George Scott didn’t last long, bowled by a beauty from Raine, who then picked up Simpson three balls later lbw for a duck. And the medium-pacer then struck the most telling blow of all when his lbw shout against Malan was upheld. His trio of scalps had come in just 11 balls.
Only the intervention of bad light seven balls later prevented further carnage on a joyous day for bowlers.