Saturday, 18 August 2012

Batty's six scripts nail biting win

Middlesex and Surrey don't really do boring, middle of the road cricket. The last Championship encounter between the two sides ended in a tense final day win for Middlesex by three runs. Today's game was no less intriguing but this time Surrey emerged the victors by the comparatively comfortable margin of 8 runs.

Going in to the final day the home side were firm favourites on a turning pitch against an inexperienced batting lineup. The day began in perfect fashion as Kartik picked up the key wicket of Robson with his sixth delivery. There was a feeling that Middlesex might be fortunate to make the lunch break as the third wicket went down soon after, Batty collecting his second scalp, Tom Smith edging to Kartik at leg slip.

Denly and Malan then steadied the ship for Middlesex with a 43 run partnership. Malan looking the much more comfortable of the two as he was positive from the off. Denly's wicket, leg before to give Batty his third wicket, brought another as Dexter fell, also to Batty. When Balbirnie and Malan fell within six overs of that it looked as though the game was up for Middlesex at 101-7 with 153 runs still required.

It wasn't over though, not by a long shot. Steven Crook came to the crease and was instantly positive, advancing down the track to crack Batty for two fours. He and the debutant Rossington compiled a superb 96 run partnership at a good pace and the captain began to look very short of ideas. He belatedly made a change, bringing Dernbach into the attack and the pace bowler delivered, bowling Crook with a slower ball in his second over of the day. It was a massive relief for Batty.

When Rossington was caught at slip by Roy off just two balls later it looked as though the game was up...again. But it wasn't...again. Roland-Jones and Murtagh, who forged a good 44 run partnership in the first innings steadily brought the total within reach. Batty persisted with spin almost throughout the entire day, save for seven overs from Dernbach it was slow bowling all the way. Some of the fields Batty set were overly defensive in the circumstances and he seemed to be dead set against mixing up the bowling.

When the target dipped below 20 runs Kartik bowled a no ball and the game seemed to be heading in Middlesex's direction. With the partnership edging towards fifty and the set batsmen sensibly turning the strike over I had all but given up. However Batty, with one last push, managed to crowbar and LBW decision out of umpire Nigel Cowley to win the match. His celebration, down on his knees mid-pitch, said it all.

This was an absolutely vital win as one of only two fixtures that remained at the Oval. It takes us 18 points clear of Lancashire on the same number of games and 21 clear of Worcestershire who have a game in hand. It was not a vintage performance but there are plenty of positives - Burns and Harinath making maiden Championship tons, some runs for Davies and wickets for Kartik are all good signs, and it is crucial that we continue on an upward curve for the final three games.

We know that one win can spark a revival in fortunes and I hope that is the case with this result. The players worked extremely hard over the course of four days and deserve the plaudits. Well played.


miltonkeynesman said...

Hi Josh - I was out of the country, and cricket contact, for 3days until last night. It looked like an exciting last day and it didnt disappoint. I could not listen continually but managed to catch most of the more crucial dismissals on BBC London. After the depths of Durham this was a good comeback. Pity Durham won again, but we are better off than the bottom two although the Liverpool pitch preparation would concern me - with two games to play there, including us.

Our result at Durham was particularly disappointing as both Lancs and Worcs are looking forlorn and any win or high points draw would have looked good.

Today, Batty did appear to be reluctant to ring the changes. I would have liked to have seen Ansari given a longer bowl and both seamers might feel neglected. Still the overseas spinner paid some of his wages in this match. You must have enjoyed the day out.

Big game tomorrow and I hope KP fits into the team ethic rather than plays the mistreated hero. He'll probably get some stick from the Hants faithful. I hope to get to the Glamorgan game on Tuesday. Two wins and we will nearly be there in this one. Burns is not in the squad and I would guess Wilson or ZdB miss out with one of the seamers unless the pitch looks seam friendly.

Keep up the good work.

GreenJJ said...

Evening MKM

You're right that compared to Durham this was a fine result, and goes to show there is still fight in the old dog yet.

It was a great day, not felt tension like that in a while, had we lost that it would've been a hammer blow.

Tomorrow is indeed a big game, got a feeling KP could be on for a big one, and it would be timely since our CB40 batting has been brittle of late. Disappointed not to see Burns in the squad, very strange decision. Think we should just have the edge tomorrow...


Paul A said...

Such a tense and dramatic day and, like other supporters, my nerves were shot to pieces by the end. An excellent response from the team to win that game after such a poor opening day.
Fair play to Harinath, he played an innings that I didn't think he was capable of. Rory Burns seems a fine prospect. Batty bowled brilliantly today and you could see the emotion on his face at the end. He is a passionate individual who is a great team man. A word about Toby Roland-Jones. I thought he bowled superbly in both innings and showed great determination with the bat. Worth an England Lions place surely?

GreenJJ said...

Mine too, the adrenaline was really pumping towards the end so can't imagine what it was like for the players! I hope his is an innings that Harinath can really kick on from, he's a grafter and I think he deserves a bit of luck.

Batty is a wholehearted cricketer, of that there is no doubt. He always gives everything. I just thought some of his tactics were a bit unimaginative but there were 10 other blokes out there who didn't seem to agree with me on that! Roland-Jones is definitely worth a Lions place in my view, the sooner the better.