Nick Compton’s hit reduces chances of Middlesex losing to Warwickshire

Steven Finn. Middlesex v Warwickshire

After all the fun of the fare at Lord’s last weekend, the pitch for this match has been undercooked and two-paced, meaning that alongside unseasonal weather batting has been tricky. Warwickshire’s impressive 342 was anchored by Laurie Evans’ 98, that gave them a chance to win the match; on Tuesday Nick Compton’s gritty 74 greatly reduced Middlesex’s chances of losing it.

All three results remain possible. But a few factors have made the draw likely: Compton’s grind, Middlesex’s 45-minute, 47-run ninth-wicket partnership between Neil Dexter and Toby Roland-Jones and Warwickshire’s uneventful second innings. Had the visitors been able to push on, the lead could have been 200 and a late-morning declaration devised; instead it sits at 140. Had Middlesex taken more than two wickets, they could have reduced Warwickshire to a chaseable score.

With a morning session bookended by a delayed start and a premature, elongated lunch, batting in the morning session was torrid, making Compton’s obduracy all the more admirable. Early on Sam Robson was drawn in by Chris Wright and edged to slip, bringing Eoin Morgan to the crease. England’s limited-overs captain cut and drove magnificently but was dropped twice in the cordon, on five and 30. With a big score beckoning, Morgan carelessly hooked Keith Barker to fine-leg, who did not have to move. Less than an over later James Franklin pushed half-forward and was bowled by Wright.

Varun Chopra’s captaincy was interesting. Barker had bowled 18 overs before Boyd Rankin – who looked tailor-made for the surface – delivered his first. Three overs cost Rankin 29, but his fourth brought the crucial wicket of Compton, who had been so still and authoritative at the crease, with perfect knowledge of the whereabouts of his off-stump. Compton hooked a bumper straight to Jonathan Trott at fine-leg, looking furious as he left the field.

A flurry of wickets fell before tea; John Simpson pushed tamely to midwicket, Ollie Rayner offered a return catch to Rikki Clarke, who also had James Harris caught at slip. Upon resumption, Dexter – who was struck in the unspeakables by Rankin on 25 – accumulated, as Roland-Jones thrashed, before holing out to Rankin, who also claimed Steven Finn.

Later Middlesex beat Warwickshire bats regularly. Ateeq Javid was caught sharply by Franklin at slip and Jonathon Webb was beaten for pace by Harris, but Chopra and Trott held fast with neither team able to move the game forward vastly. Wright said Warwickshire would bat until at least lunch before having a tilt at the win, while Compton acknowledged the difficulties of batting on the wicket.

“The wicket is tough but I really enjoyed batting out there,” he said. “The intricacies of batting on those wickets, there’s fine margins, working out different ways to play the bowlers, what lines to play and leave. It was a good challenge.”

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