Stunning stumping gives Mike Atherton’s son his first wicket on day Murtagh takes 900th

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John Simpson stumps Shan Masoof to give De Caires his first wicket
Photo; Courtesy of Benj Gilbert / Middlesex CCC

Middlesex 401

Derbyshire 177-4

Josh De Caires was not born the day Tim Murtagh took his first wicket. He won’t have any knowledge of  it. However Murtagh will remember the day De Caires took his first. Vividly. On the same day as a young bowling career ‘began’, Murtagh took the 900th of his first-class career.

It’s been a day both will remember.

Behind that story, there was also a fascinating day of country cricket unfolding.

An absorbing day’s cricket belonged wholly to Derbyshire and looked to have balanced Day 3 brilliantly until a moment of magic from, a most unexpected source changed the trajectory of the season opener in Middlesex’s favour.

Shan Masood’s innings had been the highlight of the day.

Middlesex slumped from 307-4 overnight to 411, mostly due to poor concentration amongst the batters and a massively enhanced performance from the Derby bowlers from their grom outing on Day 1.

Spinner Alex Thomson ended up with figures of 4-103, his best for the county. Middlesex contributed to their own downfall partially by a hamfisted attempt to make 350 inside 110 overs to secure a batting point. They did so with the last ball of the 110th over but a largely reduced hold over the game.

Forner Seaxes’ batsman Billy Godleman and Shan Masood knocked off 65 of that deficit with relative ease even though the pitch was doing far more than on Thursday. The ball was seaming but Murtagh, Ethan Bamber, Toby Roland-Jones and  Tom Helm could quite find the line to exploit it.

To be absolutely fair, Masood and Godleman’s decision making was perfect, both showing great awareness in knowing which balls to leave, as well as attack or defend. To quote Sir Humphrey Appleby, their inactivity was masterful when a delivery swung greatly and a lesser player would have left the bat hanging out.

It took Murtagh’s big moment to end that opening partnership, bowling Godleman for 23. It was a mere 7961 days since his first when bowling for British Universities, James Foster caught Zimbabwe’s GJ Whittall in June 2000 at Fenner’s.

Despite the many famous cricketers he has dismissed, Murtagh still recollects his first, the dismissal of Whittall, as the most memorable:

“The first one is always nice because you always question yourself  whether you’re going to ever take on first-class wicket never mind 900m so the first one is always special, but no real memories of any other during the time.”

Tim Murtagh celebrates his 900th wicket
Photo: Benj Gilbert c/o Middlesex CCC

Therefter, Masood took even fuller control, ably assisted by  Wayne Madsen until the star moment of the day.

Masood had already scored Derbyshire’s s highest score for any player making his Lords debut. Middlesex had already squandered their overnight advantage by losing their last six wickets for 94. The game was inching the visitors’ way.

They had been the better side for the opening hour obviously but then Masood made batting even look easier. He had steered them to 141 -2 when the game’s best moment game.

Middlesex had gambled in their team selection by fielding four-seamers and no front line spinner with no Luke Holman selected. Each of the four seamers had bowled well and contained the Derbyshire batsman other than Masood.

However, Masood was dominating the square when out of nowhere genius came.

With their four seamers tiring, the home side brought Josh De Caires, a reserve spinner at best, on to bowl.

De Caires completely bamboozled Masood and watched on with unbridled glee as his wicketkeeper John Simpson snatched the ball and removed the bails for an alert and brilliant stumping.

It was De Caire’s first red-ball wicket and came at a most critical but unexpected moment with a prize first ever scalp.

The son of Mike Atherton, De Caires had not even been born when Tim Murtagh took his inaugural first-class wicket 22 years ago. It was fitting that the legend reached such a significant milestone on the day a bright young prospect took his first.

The day ended even better for Middlesex with the penultimate recognised batsman Wayne Madsen being trapped LBW by Bamber.

Derbyshire trail by 224 but have only ten batsmen as Ryan Sidebottom is unlikely to be risked following his hamstring tear early yesterday.

The match is now beautifully balanced. Derbyshire need 75 to avoid the follow on with just five wickets left unless Sidebottom opts to bat with a runner.

Middlesex are favourites but Day 2 has already provided county cricket with two golden moments.

Also see:

Day 1 – Eskinazi ton leads day of Middlesex domination

County Season Preview by Peter Moore

“I remember walking up to the Pavilion and I just had tears in my eyes” – Nathan Sowter

Video: Luke Holman season preview

All Middlesex Cricket

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