Home cricket Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Middlesex Group 2 2021

Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Middlesex Group 2 2021

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Middlesex 114 for 3 (White 52*) trail Surrey 154 (Murtagh 4-28) by 40 runs

“Look up, not down,” is the guiding principle for captains winning the toss at Lord’s. Pitches can be deceptive in their appearance, so the prevailing wisdom suggests, and thus it is safer to trust the overhead conditions. As such, much of the first day of this London derby was difficult to comprehend, as 13 wickets fell under clear blue skies to leave Middlesex 16 for 3 at 4.10pm, having inserted Surrey and bowled them out before tea.

But a determined, unbroken stand of 98 in just over two hours between Sam Robson and Robbie White ensured that Middlesex had the upper hand overnight, with the opportunity to press on towards a position of dominance. For White in particular, this was a crucial innings. His second-innings 73 at Hampshire last week ensured that Stevie Eskinazi – the stand-in captain for the first two rounds – dropped out of the side instead of him to accommodate Peter Handscomb‘s inclusion, but left him needing to repay that faith; at 25 and yet to nail down a first-team spot, his early-season form could easily define his career

He came in with Reece Topley swinging the ball late from the Nursery End and with the first-innings capitulation against Mohammad Abbas last week fresh in the memory, but showed resolve to reach the close unbeaten. He offered a pair of half-chances, with neither Rory Burns nor Ollie Pope able to dive forward and get their hands underneath balls outside-edged into the slip cordon, and survived a prolonged lbw shout when Topley hit him on the pad, but became the match’s first half-centurion in the final over of the day with a confident square-drive through cover point. Robson, at the far end, was resolute as ever.

Their stand means that the deficit for Middlesex is just 40 heading into the second day, which had looked unlikely when Topley struck three times in his first three overs. He had Max Holden in his second, squeezing a half-volley out to second slip, before bowling Nick Gubbins with a low full toss that dipped in late and bursting through Handscomb’s considerable gate in his third. For Handscomb, it was a harsh reminder of the realities of county cricket: he signed as the club’s overseas player some 76 weeks ago and finally made his debut as captain here, but there is little room for loose drives this early in the summer.

Topley, playing his fourth first-class match since May 2017, was as impressive in a wicketless second spell as he had been in his first, and his return to red-ball cricket will invite questions as to whether he can offer England a point of difference in Australia this winter; while he needs to prove his fitness before they become more serious, there are not many 6ft 8in left-arm seamers around the country who can swing the ball late.

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