Roland-Jones bowls Middlesex to victory over Gloucestershire


Middlesex 172 and 244 beat Gloucestershire 201 and 137 by 78 runs – Specsavers County Championship Day 3

Peter Moore reports from Merchant Taylors School

Middlesex completed their second county championship victory of the season, to move them up to fourth in the table after completing a 78-run victory over Gloucestershire.

Veteran Tim Murtagh’s five-wicket haul alongside a ten-wicket match return from Toby Roland-Jones proved enough to claim the win inside three days.

Chasing 216, Gloucestershire’s hopes of victory were dented by Murtagh’s three-wicket burst, who then returned to break a stubborn eighth-wicket partnership of 51.

Middlesex resumed day three with a lead of 67, with Dawid Malan and George Scott at the crease.

With the very first delivery of the day Malan (eight) gloved a lifting delivery behind off Josh Shaw to leave Middlesex 96 for 4. In testing conditions, Gloucestershire continued to make inroads into the Middlesex line up by reducing the hosts to 124 for 7 after Scott (22) went to a two man effort from the visitors thanks to James Bracey parrying the ball up to Benny Howell who took a simple catch.

Robbie White (ten) feathered a catch behind before John Simpson (ten) was trapped to a ball that kept very low from David Payne to leave the hosts with a lead of 105.

The Middlesex pair of Toby Roland–Jones and Tom Helm decided the best form of defence was attack and played some elegant shots to add an undefeated 47 before lunch to take Middlesex to 124 for 7, an overall lead of 141.

The pairing of Roland-Jones and Helm continued to prosper in the afternoon session with Roland-Jones bringing up his half century, but when the new ball was taken it immediately reaped rewards for Gloucestershire when Payne struck by removing Helm (46) to end a stand that finished one short of three figures.

Despite playing a lovely cover drive for four, Nathan Sowter (five) perished shortly afterwards after holing out to cover. With Tim Murtagh (nine) last man out and Roland-Jones finishing with a defiant unbeaten 51, it left Middlesex eventually bowled out for 244 and Gloucestershire requiring 216 for victory on a pitch that would appear difficult to bat on last.

For Middlesex to win they clearly needed to get wickets with the new ball. With Murtagh opening the bowling they struck with the very first delivery when Gloucestershire’s captain Chris Dent was snapped up at third slip by Sam Robson.

Murtagh, who only a couple of days ago took 3-39 in an ODI for Ireland against Zimbabwe, struck again when Bracey (15) offered no shot and was given out lbw to leave the visitors 20-2.  On the stroke of tea, Murtagh bagged his third victim of the session when opener Miles Hammond (16) was taken at third slip by Stevie Eskinazi to leave the visitors 35 for 3, still 181 away from their target.

Straight after tea it was Tom Helm’s turn to get into the action when he had Gareth Roderick (five) fending off a delivery straight into the gloves of Simpson. Roland-Jones’s excellent match continued when he snapped up the wickets of Howell (one) bowled off stump and former Middlesex player Ryan Higgins (zero) second ball as the visitors slumped to 40 for 6.

The victory target of 216 seemed a long way off when Helm had Ben Charlesworth (two) caught in the slips as the visitors dismal afternoon session continued, having lost five wickets for only five runs in the course of 29 deliveries.

Graeme van Buuren and Payne were looking quiet comfortable in the middle and it took a cracking delivery from Murtagh to remove Payne (16) who saw his leg stump flattened to end a stubborn partnership of 51. The 37-year-old Murtagh made it five after Shaw (zero) edged behind to leave the hosts on the cusp of victory.

With Gloucestershire holding Middlesex’s hopes up of winning, the hosts claimed the extra half hour and it was down to Roland-Jones to claim the final wicket to fall when he bowled Sayers (19) to end up with match figures of 10-79, as Middlesex completed their second championship victory of the season by 78 runs.



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