Cricket: Middlesex are made to suffer

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The Independent Online
THIS was an unhappy day in Middlesex history. Their shirt-front of a pitch may have been ironed into creaseless submission, but Mark Ramprakash and his men were also hung out to dry. Worcestershire piled up runs like so much laundry in a basket until Middlesex were positively creaking under the weight.

By the time Tom Moody declared, Middlesex had conceded 600 runs in a County Championship innings for the first time in their history - and in so doing became the last county to concede 600-plus.

They had only been subjected to three other totals in the same region - 665 against West Indies in 1939, 612 against Oxford University in 1876 and a more modest 603 against The Rest in 1920.

Moody was not their chief tormentor either. He perished, without adding to his overnight 132, to the 14th delivery with the new ball, leg before to Richard Johnson to one that kept a trifle low.

Thereafter David Leather-dale took up the cudgels and strung together a fine collection of shots, particularly through the off-side, in compiling a stand of 191 in 54 overs with the wicketkeeper Steve Rhodes for the sixth wicket.

Leatherdale is certainly in form. In his previous outing he made 99. Yesterday he went a lot further, only falling when he had bettered that by 38 runs to complete the 10th first-class century of his career and his eighth in the Championship. He was in for a shade over four hours, having hit a six and 18 fours.

With Rhodes unbeaten on a classy 67, Moody finally showed some clemency and declared the innings closed, but there was more torture for Middlesex with the premature loss of Richard Kettleborough when the reply had barely got under way.

Thankfully, the Australian left-hander, Justin Langer, and the Middlesex captain, Ramprakash, who had 600- odd reasons to get his head down, steadied things as they set about nibbling away at the formidable Worces- tershire total.