The way Middlesex bowled on Thursday suggested that the threat of Second Division cricket at Lord's next season had galvanised Mike Gatting's charges sufficiently; but yesterday their batsmen failed to follow suit, capitulating shortly after lunch to Leicestershire's three-man attack.
As on Thursday, there seemed precious little in the surface to help the bowlers but Mike Kasprowicz and James Ormond extracted what life there was. Ben Hutton and his fellow former Radley and Durham graduate, Andy Strauss, began as they had left off the previous evening, in confident fashion, but after just five overs the rot set in.
First Hutton fell leg before to Kasprowicz and Strauss followed in the next over, caught behind off Ormond. That was 31 for 2, which became 33 for 5 as Richard Kettleborough, playing back and across, and David Nash, pushing down the wrong line, were bamboozled by Kasprowicz, while Ormond chipped in by yorking Owais Shah with a snorter.
Paul Weeks attempted to staunch the steady flow of departing batsmen but Michael Brown failed to stay with him, offering no stroke to Kasprowicz and suddenly the follow-on looked a distinct possibility.
When Simon Cook and Jamie Hewitt were dismissed by Chris Lewis, Middlesex still needed to find a single from somewhere to avoid batting again. Lewis obliged with a no-ball and thanks to some lusty blows by Richard Johnson, the hosts kept their deficit down to 91.
When Leicestershire batted again runs were still hard to come by. Darren Stevens went for a duck in the first over, bowled by Angus Fraser, who proceeded to emulate the early achievement of Kasprowicz in taking five wickets in an innings for the first time this season.
Included in those was the hapless Lewis, trapped lbw first ball to complete a "king pair" for the match. For the second time in the game Jonathan Dakin came in on a hat-trick and for the second time he defied it and, in partnership with Kasprowicz, stretched Leicestershire's lead. By the close Leicestershire looked firm favourites to remain in second place in the Championship but the stage could be set today for one of the young Middlesex batsmen to make a name for himself.Reuse content