Cricket: Middlesex move into higher gear

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The Independent Online
Middlesex 511

Durham 283 and 194

Middx won by innings and 34 runs

HAVING taken until late June to get the engine started, the Middlesex machine is now firing on all cylinders and looking a class vehicle at last.

They rolled over Durham with ease, wrapping it up in the late evening sunshine at Lord's in the second over of the extra 10. It was their second successive victory after five draws and suddenly the Championship leaders will be looking nervously over their shoulders.

Middlesex started this game in 13th position, Durham in fifth, but those positions could soon be reversed. And this is without Phil Tufnell but not for much longer. He is in the 12-man squad for today's Sunday League match.

Durham began the day in a seemingly hopeless position. Their tail-enders had a target of 141 to avoid the follow-on and they managed to hold out until lunch, when Richard Johnson, Middlesex's immensely promising 19-year-old fast bowler, removed Chris Scott three short of what would have been a well-deserved half-century. Johnson's four for 64 was a career best.

Thus fired up, he gave Durham the worst possible start when they followed on 228 runs behind after lunch. With the second delivery of the innings he trapped Wayne Larkins with one that kept wickedly low. Johnson and Angus Fraser vied with each other to test the batsmen outside the off stump and it was a surprise when the dour Mark Saxelby came out of his shell to dolly a catch to mid-on. More predictably, John Emburey, who had extracted bounce and turn in the morning session, came on after 17 overs and opened with four maidens. He also accounted for Durham's last real hope, John Morris, who miscued an off- drive to midwicket.

Stewart Hutton paid the price for a rash pull off Johnson, and in declining light Phil Bainbridge got a snorter from Fraser that pitched middle and hit off. Jonathan Longley pushed Emburey to short leg and Scott could not emulate his first-innings heroics. David Graveney became Johnson's third lbw victim and his seventh wicket of the match; only Anderson Cummings showed much resistance, reaching the unlikely heights of top score in both innings.