Cricket: Gatting filled with joy as Middlesex go to work

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Gloucestershire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .299 and 95

Middlesex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180 and 216-6

Middlesex win by four wickets

HAVING given Gloucestershire a crash course in spin, Middlesex wrapped things up nicely in time for a leisurely Sunday lunch at the County Ground and, with 20 points on the table just for starters, small wonder Mike Gatting was looking contented. There was plenty, too, to give others food for thought.

With four-day cricket the norm and exploiters of turn prepared for a rewarding increase in workload, the captain's locker is well stocked with necessities for the Championship trip. John Emburey and Phil Tufnell did the damage here when sharing eight wickets to scuttle Gloucestershire for 95 in their second innings, leaving Gatting to sum up the message.

'It just goes to show that there is a space for spinners in cricket,' he said, which after a long diet of seam-up goes down well. Gloucestershire, though, were left feeling rather sick thanks to a poor display of technique on their own patch which, while coming up with turn, was no minefield.

Indeed, no sooner had Middlesex completed their four-wicket win than the nets were going up. Fair enough, because on this showing you would have to say that Gloucestershire need to catch all the practice they can get. 'It was an excellent wicket,' Gatting said. From his point of view it certainly was because, apart from making runs himself, he has quality players at his disposal.

Not least among these is Mark Ramprakash, the only batsman in the match whose total contribution came to three figures. Middlesex had shown a deficit of 119 on the first innings and even after Emburey and Tufnell had bowled them back into contention, it took a masterful display from Ramprakash to finish the job.

Ramprakash needs to let his bat do the talking following his verbal outburst of last season that resulted in disciplinary measures and here he made the bulk of his runs on Saturday.

Perhaps if Simon Hinks had clung on to a catch at long leg in the evening gloom then when Ramprakash was on 61, the outcome would have been less certain.

As it was, he lived to fight another day and his innings of 75 - spread across 221 minutes and in which he faced 178 balls and struck nine fours - led Middlesex to within sight of their 215 victory target before Jack Russell, who claimed seven victims for Gloucestershire, pulled off a stunning diving catch.