Luke Fletcher scores 50 at No 11, runs out a batsman, takes a wicket and opens the batting – Middlesex v Nottinghamshire Day Two Roundup


Nottinghamshire 415 & 6-0
Middlesex 195

Alan Coleman, Head of Men’s Performance Cricket’ at Lords came out to face the media after a dominant Nottinghamshire showed the gulf that exists between the divisions, even though the after-effects of COVID currently force them to play in the lower of the two.

The visitors were the better side in every department of the game on day two of this contest. Middlesex did not help themselves with some poor shot selection and even worse discipline. Coleman said he did not regret the still baffling decision to ask Notts to bat having won the toss but did admit that both scoreboard pressure and the quality of the Notts bowlers had caused some of his charges to make some poor decisions.

He mentioned that one innings was a short sample perhaps hoping a less dismal performance in the second innings will draw Middlesex fans to different conclusions.

The visitors by contrast had much to be happy about.

Notts number 11 Luke Fletcher scored a superb 50 at a run a ball to steer Nottinghamshire to 415 from their overnight score. He joined Stuart Broad at 352-9 and 12.4 overs later, the pair had added 63 in 74 balls.

Fletcher also managed a run-out and was allowed to open the batting late in the day as Notts declined to enforce the follow on with one over left. All he did not do was write the theme tune and sing the theme tune, as the dearly departed Dennis Waterman might have done in a Little Britain sketch.

At some point on day three, Notts will declare and leave the home side a very uphill battle. Given the disarray they showed today, the game may well be near enough over by the end of the day’s play.

The morning had started well for Middlesex as Toby Roland-Jones took four early wickets having returned a blank yesterday. Sadly, spinner Luke Hollman took the brunt of Fletcher’s aggression. He finished on 0-61 off eight overs but Roland-Jones apart, none of the home bowlers dominated the Notts lower order.

Middlesex’s poor decision making continued as Sam Robson shouldered arms and was bowled by Pattinson for five. De Caires ran himself out by trying to steal a single to a very short mid-on where Fletcher enthusiastically picked up and threw down the stumps. At 27-2, Middlesex were still 239 away from avoiding the follow on.

Mark Stoneman and Peter Handscomb steered the home side through to lunch and 91-2 with the ball seemingly bouncing less and less and the pitch getting less lively. However, wickets tumbled immediately after the Notts bowlers had been fed.

Mark Stonewall was bowled through the gate and a series of poor decisions saw Handscomb, Holden, Simpson and Hollman trapped LBW.

Handscomb had a nightmare two deliveries to Pattinson after he swung wildly at a swinger away from him and was plumb LBW to Pattinson’s next delivery. The skipper had never looked comfortable but had scrapped well to get t0 48 but never looked overtly comfortable.

With the noble exception of Andersson, the Middlesex tail collapsed with minimal resistance. In a situation that required dogged defence, two got themselves out to inappropriate hook shots and were caught on the leg side. Toby Roland-Jones shot was especially unnecessary in the context of the game.

James Pattinson was excellent with the ball taking 4-49, figures that don’t quite illustrate how well he bowled. Stuart Broad finished with 3-39 although most of that was cleaning up the tail.

The wicket was not a ‘195’ wicket and although the Notts attack is too strong for Division 2, Middlesex’s poor discipline did not aid their cause.

They have to somehow wrest total control of the timing and size of their run chase in the 4th innings on Saturday by both making Notts work harder for every run and not allowing men with the talent of Hameed and Mullaney to get settled.

It will be a tall order to not be in an utterly dismal position at the start of the fourth day. Their decison making will have to improve as the last correct decision they made was when Peter Handscomb called ‘tails’.

Since then, it has all been downhill, and it is a tall order for the hosts on day three.

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