Boundary Bletherings: Middlesex must become more ruthless when they have the advantage


The four day Middlesex draw with Leicestershire posed more questions than it answered.

Several of the top order batsman failed completely but form comes and goes, and that can surely be sorted out with time in the nets and focusing on the basics.

Match Report: Rain deprives Leicester of first Lords win in 39 years

Leicester showed on Day 3 that the pitch could aid the seamers with Chris Wright and Tom Taylor reducing Middlesex to 114-8 with some quality bowling. However, even aided by a day’s extra wear, some out of form batsman and cloud cover, the home seam attack was insipid on Day Four. Another writer used the word anaemic.

In fairness to the club, they are missing Tim Murtagh, Steve Finn and Toby Roland-Jones all of who arguably are more experienced and better bowlers than the younger men who replaced them.

In fact Tom Helm’s batting where he contributed 83 was probably the highlight of his match, and the most memorable moment for any of the Middlesex pacemen.

VIDEO: Tom Helm: I call myself an all rounder

In an odd game, where runs were not made and wickets not taken by the people one would expect, or even at the moments when centuries of cricket knowledge would lead you to expect, one concerning and consistent theme did emerge for Middlesex.

On several occasions, the side were well on top and in a wining position.

On Day 1, they were 113-1 and the 228-4, both significant totals to launch an assault on a match winning score. In the end it took Helm’s first innings contribution from Number 10 to haul the side to 349.

On Day 2, they had Leicester on 113-4 before Harry Dearden joined the outstanding Colin Ackermann for the game’s second century partnership. Even so, they bowled the guests out for 268 and with an 81 run lead were again in pole position.

They threw that away on Day 3, although that was as much attributable to good bowling as bad batting. From 114-8, Helm’s bat again rescued them, as well as a gritty innings from wicketkeeper John Simpson.

Still, 305 looked hard to get on Day 4 on a wicket that had helped the seamers on Day 3 and with an on-form spinner Ollie Rayner who had taken four wickets on Day 2.

Leicester quite frankly looked hungrier. Hasan Azad struggled making just seven runs from his first 42 balls. Then he was dropped and made eight from his next three balls. He was dropped again but he steadied the ship and no other visiting batsman thereafter felt or looked unduly threatened.

Had rain not intervened, Leicester would have been worthy winners.

Yet Middlesex had the game in Stuart Law’s own words “by the scruff of the neck” and let it go. More than once.

“We got ourselves into good positions but probably didn’t hammer home the advantage,” admitted captain Steve Eskinazi.

Captain Steve Eskinazi talks about Middlesex’s performance

Did the side, overfed on the cut and thrust and immediacy of one day cricket, over compensate by relaxing too much? Coach Stuart Law spoke of “lack of intent” although intensity did seem to fit his meaning better. Perhaps the truth is somewhere between the two.

He pointed out that 349 was the side’s best total of the season but that they “let it slide in that third innings.”

“We probably sat back and waited for things to happen,” he added.

In the end, the weather would have put paid to Middlesex’s winning chances even if they had batted better in the second innings.

Coach Stuart Law talks about “intent”

Their fans can only hope that the calm and reason Law exhibited talking to us, (rightly defending his players), is matched with words of a fire and intensity that motivate the players to find a killer instinct that will turn into red ball victories and haul them up the table to the fringes of the promotion race.



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