71 for Tom but weather the only winner on day four
The top two First Division sides of 2016 continue to search for their opening wins of this season’s Specsavers County Championship campaign after Middlesex and Somerset settled on a rain-ruined draw at Lord’s.
The two sides shook hands at 4.50pm with Somerset on 161 for three, representing an overall lead in the match of 246 runs. Visiting skipper Tom Abell was unbeaten with 71 while Steve Davies contributed 23 to an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 60.
The hosts, who have now drawn the opening four matches of their lethargic title defence, banked 10 points. Somerset, who finished runner’s up last season travelled West with 11 points.
Batting again by 12.40pm and having secured a first-innings lead of 85, Somerset lost veteran opening bat Marcus Trescothick with only a single on the board. The former England left-hander ducked into a well-directed bouncer from Toby Roland-Jones to glove a looping catch to wicket-keeper John Simpson and exit without scoring.
After lunch Dean Elgar, fresh from his first innings 158 that moved him beyond the 10,000-run milestone for his first-class career, had just posted his 500th run of the Championship summer only to fall for 33. The left-hander edged into the cordon to be snaffled by Ollie Rayner at second slip.
Conversely, Abell set out to bat time and the Taunton-born right-hander featured in a stand of 42 with James Hildreth that ended when Hildreth departed to the third ball of the match from Middlesex off-spinner Paul Stirling. Making room and shaping to cut, Hildreth toe ended to the keeper and went for 23.
Abell marched on, moving past his season’s best of 40 just before tea to reach his 10th first-class 50 from 111 balls and with six fours.
The clouds converged soon after tea forcing a short break for bad light after which Simpson, the Middlesex wicketkeeper, removed his pads, tossed the gloves to Stevie Eskinazi and sent down his maiden over in first-class cricket.
Simpson, Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins took turns in serving up a series of long-hops and full-tosses to end the match on a somewhat farcical note.
At the start of the final day, Middlesex had batted on for another 14 overs in adding 47 to their overnight, first-innings total.
Somerset made their first breakthrough after an hour to break an eighth-wicket stand between Tom Helm and James Franklin that added 62 inside 21.2 overs. Playing back in defence to Lewis Gregory’s first ball of the day from the Pavilion End, Helm lost his off stump to a shooting off-cutter to depart for a career-best 28.
Last man Tom Murtagh then sliced a drive off Gregory straight to cover point to leave Franklin marooned on 49 not out and end the innings. Adam Voges’ retirement on Sunday with a calf injury ensured he played no further part in the home reply although his unbeaten 86 had eventually helped take his side to within 85 of the Somerset first innings.
The day started memorably for Middlesex opening batsman Nick Gubbins who received his commemorative, embroidered Middlesex county cap from India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar during a presentation in front of the pavilion. On an otherwise sombre Monday at Lord’s, however, the county flags flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to the victims of Saturday night’s London Bridge terror attack.
After the match Somerset Skipper Tom ABell said: “We had hopes at the start of the day to pick up the last two Middlesex wickets as quickly as possible and to see where we stood, but they dug in and after that the draw was really inevitable.
“It was always going to be difficult to force a result against an attack of the quality Middlesex has. Expectations after last season were high and we’ve not lived up to them. Our batting has let us down too often this season, but we have to put that to bed now and concentrate on the next couple of games.
“Every game is huge for us now, we got ourselves into this position, it’s down to us now to dig out way out of it.”
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