Cricket: Emburey in total command

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Hampshire. . . . . . . .280 and 88

Middlesex. . . . . . . .310 and 59-1

Middlesex win by nine wickets

WHILE England's bowlers endured more humiliation at Headingley yesterday morning, a foursome from Middlesex who have been ranked among their number were in flawless form at Lord's - first with bat, and then, devastatingly, with ball.

Neil Williams and Angus Fraser recorded their best batting contributions of the season and Phil Tufnell almost resembled an all-rounder, adding a pair of timely dismissals to an unbeaten 17. But the pick of the quartet was the imperious John Emburey, whose intelligent off-spin brought him a career-best 8 for 40 which reduced a hapless Hampshire to 88 all out, their lowest innings total of the summer by 68 runs.

Their wickets fell almost as quickly as the rain which followed. After a two-hour delay, Middlesex reappeared shortly after 6pm and lost only Mike Roseberry in finding the 59 runs that brought them their eighth win in 11 matches.

The only pity was the paucity of support to witness the Championship pace-setters in such irresistible action. Resuming on 231 for 8, few among The Few would have given Middlesex much chance of catching, let alone passing, Hampshire's first innings of 280.

How wrong they were. Fraser gave notice of the tail's uninhibited intent with a straight-driven six off Shaun Udal in a forceful, run-a-minute cameo that ended on 29. The thrash continued, however. Tufnell ambled out, settled in comfortably and ably assisted Williams at the other end.

Williams, whose sole taste of Test life came in 1990, progressed with uncomplicated aggression to 44, the highlight being a driven six towards the grandstand which David Gower got both hands to but in doing so tripped over the rope. Williams was eventually trapped in the deep by Darren Flint, off Cardigan Connor. Tufnell's disappointment at being deserted soon dispersed as, in bewitching tandem with Emburey, he constructed a web of spin that strangled Hampshire.

Emburey engineered the breakthrough, tempting Sean Morris into diverting the ball to Roseberry at silly mid-off, and the rest was a procession. Even the rain held off for Emburey's parade. Tufnell, coming in filled with positive ambition from the Nursery End, tried to keep pace with his prolific older partner and promptly took the most important wicket - that of Gower, who was unable to repeat his glorious first innings of 91 - falling meekly for five, leg before to a Tufnell delivery that never got off the ground.

The steady flow of wickets then turned into a torrent, Emburey swiftly mopping up seven more. His record - and 50th Championship wicket of the season - came courtesy of a fine stooping catch by Desmond Haynes at midwicket. Hampshire's batsmen led the applause as Emburey left the field. Graham Gooch might disagree, but a cricketing life can encounter new peaks at 40.

Man in the Middle, page 27

(Photograph omitted)