Middlesex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 439-5 dec
MIDDLESEX required one wicket with 12 balls remaining; Yorkshire required six runs to clear the deficit and draw the match, there being insufficient time for Middlesex to bat again. Neil Williams bowled to Jeremy Batty: the first ball was an attempted bouncer, Batty swung and got a top edge that cleared Keith Brown and bumped its way to the short straight boundary. Second ball: Batty shaped to cut and missed. Third ball: driven to Angus Fraser at mid-on, Batty decided against running. Fourth ball: Batty drove straight back, Williams missed the pick-up and Yorkshire were safe.
With Northamptonshire, who have a game in hand, winning and due to visit Lord's, this was a setback to Middlesex. They can blame the weather, which reduced yesterday's play to a maximum 42 overs, for they totally outplayed Yorkshire.
Indeed, after a gala batting performance on Sunday, the Tykes reverted to their usual inexplicable Championship form. They needed another 73 with four wickets standing when play restarted at 3.45pm and, incomprehensibly, tried to block out. Thus it was that natural hitters like Peter Hartley and Darren Gough were reduced to ciphers while common sense suggested that the target had to be to make Middlesex bat again and reduce the remaining overs by three.
Looking ahead, Yorkshire have had to move swiftly to play Michael Vaughan in Thursday's match at Old Trafford. The Roses match will be the Championship debut for the Eccles- born right-hander who scored two centuries for England Under-19 this summer and will soon return to the England squad for the remaining two Tests against the West Indies Under- 19. His retention by England for much of the summer, along with the slow left-armer Gary Keedy and the seamer Mark Broadhurst, has not pleased Yorkshire. Lancashire, too, have protested at the unavailability of the all- rounder Glen Chapple.
Worcestershire blunted Surrey's title hopes with a 65-run win yesterday. Despite a fourth-wicket stand of 80 between the skipper Alec Stewart and Alistair Brown, Surrey never got to grips with a target of 293 and lost their last five wickets for 16 runs.