Cricket / Round-Up: Middleton halts Middlesex streak

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GOING through a 40-over campaign unbowed is a feat that has defied all-comers over the past 23 summers. And so it remains. After sprinting away from the pack with a record streak of 12 successive victories, Middlesex, needing two more wins to secure their first Sunday League title, were finally reduced to mortal status at Southampton yesterday.

Having restricted their guests to a modest 181 for 7, Hampshire coasted home with five wickets in hand thanks largely to Tony Middleton's unbeaten 64. All the same, victory over Essex at Lord's next weekend will put Mike Gatting's men virtually out of reach.

Despite a hand injury, Desmond Haynes (77) fiddled merrily while the rest of the Middlesex innings went up in flames, his ninth 50 expanding his season's League aggregate to 724, leaving him four innings to gather the 196 runs required to Tipp-Ex out Tom Moody's extant mark.

Surrey enhanced their challenge for a Refuge Cup slot at Durham's considerable expense by threatening another record, this time that for the highest Sunday total. It was full steam ahead from the outset at Durham University, Darren Bicknell (125 from 116 balls) and the seemingly unstoppable Alistair Brown opening up with 117 in 14 overs, the latter following his runaway 175 in the Championship match by rattling along to 75 of those in 46 balls.

If Surrey ultimately pulled up short at 330 for 6, Durham's lack of appetite for the slaughter saw them send down one over less than their allocation, so Somerset's 360 for 3 might conceivably have been overhauled. Still, the visitors will hardly be displeased with second place in the roll of plunder, and although Ian Botham (52) briefly adopted the 'anything you can do . . . ' approach, Durham fell 100 short.

For the county that desired one least, perversely, a landmark was also within reach at Trent Bridge. Nottinghamshire, making a less than solid defence of their League crown, scented their 10th consecutive defeat when Leicestershire ran up 244 for 8, whereupon Derek Randall dispelled the gloom, contributing 91 to a rumbustious 170- run opening stand with Mark Crawley (94 not out), the basement dwellers winning by seven wickets with three balls remaining.

Kent's Irish-Australian seamer Martin McCague is beginning to get the hang of this lark. Last week his Sunday-best 4 for 35 did for Leicestershire; yesterday his hat- trick finished off Glamorgan, sealing a 47-run win at Swansea.