Cricket: Tufnell turns the tide for Middlesex

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The Independent Online
Middlesex 447 & 171-4 dec Yorkshire 275 & 322 (Middlesex win by 21 runs)

When this fascinating last day ended, Yorkshire may quite reasonably have felt that 10 minutes of rain had cost them the victory which would have taken them to the top of the Championship table. With 19 overs left, they needed 89 to win and Michael Bevan and Craig White had already put on 90 in 20 overs.

It was then that the rain intervened, and when the players came out again Yorkshire now had 16 overs to score 89.

A hold-up like this can so easily break concentration. And after Bevan had scored five off Angus Fraser's first three balls White pulled the fourth high to deep square leg.

Bevan went on to reach a delightful hundred two overs later, and Richard Blakey settled in well. The target became 66 from the last 10 overs and when, in the second of these, Blakey swept Phillip Tufnell for six and four Yorkshire were back on course.

While Tufnell was bowling from the Nursery End, Fraser was in operation at the Pavilion End. He was bowling round the wicket to the left-handed Bevan, who was taking every opportunity to cut him. The shot had brought him good runs and he had played and missed a time or two as well.

Fraser showed his experience and skill and bowled one a fraction too far up for the cut and slightly too close to the batsman as well. Bevan went for the stroke and was caught behind, and when Blakey was brilliantly caught low down by Jason Pooley at deep square leg off Tufnell in the next over the Yorkshire challenge was effectively over.

But the lower order continued the chase and perished. Peter Hartley swung Tufnell to deep square leg, and Alexander Morris came down the pitch to Tufnell, hesitated and was bowled. With two overs left, Darren Gough, who should have been thinking of the three points a draw would have given Yorkshire, holed out at long-on. Then, Mike Gatting rounded things off for Middlesex next ball by throwing out Richard Stemp from cover.

At the start of the day, Yorkshire needed another 330 and made a bad start when Anthony McGrath was leg before, shuffling across his stumps to the second ball of the morning. The only other wicket to fall before lunch was that of David Byas, who was bowled playing across the line at David Follett.

The afternoon saw the departure of Michael Vaughan, who had defended stoutly for 65 overs while scoring 67. By then, Bevan, the most charming of batsmen with a felicitous touch which seems to be the prerogative of most left-handers, was looking in excellent touch.

He is a lovely, concise, stroke-maker with a style which is completely unfussy and based on his fast and precise footwork. His partnership with White so nearly saw Yorkshire home if only it had not been for the rain.