The two things Warwickshire wanted to be spared in this match were a spanking and any more injuries. With the unsettled weather on their side, they may not suffer the former, even though they still need 12 to avoid the follow-on. Their list of wounded, however, has grown.
Laurie Evans is the latest casualty. Asked to open alongside William Porterfield in the absence of Varun Chopra (Lions) and Ian Westwood (injured), the 25-year-old right-hand batsman was playing with confidence on a good wicket, enjoying his role in a partnership with Jonathan Trott. He may even have been anticipating a maiden Championship century, when a delivery from the England pace bowler Steven Finn climbed on him unexpectedly.
The ball ballooned off his left glove as he fended it away, but seeing the ball drop safely to earth was of minor consolation. He retired soon afterwards with a broken metacarpal that will almost certainly keep him out for several weeks.
In addition to Westwood and now Evans, the defending champions have four injured bowlers in seamers Keith Barker and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, plus spinners Paul Best and Chris Metters. Finn bowled inconsistently, generating pace off his shortened run-up but maintaining less control than he would have liked; Evans was certainly unlucky.
Tim Murtagh and Corey Collymore were the pick of the Middlesex attack. Murtagh produced the ball of the day to deny Trott the opportunity to dominate, a wicket he deserved after seeing the England No 3 dropped by Ollie Rayner at second slip on five. Trott was otherwise rarely troubled in reaching 65 but then Murtagh drew him forward and found the edge again. This time Dawid Malan, at first slip, made no mistake. Three deliveries later, Murtagh successfully set a trap for Jim Troughton, the Warwickshire captain, who was caught at leg gully for a duck.
Collymore, who had struck the first blow of the day following Middlesex’s overnight declaration, maintaining a frustrating run for William Porterfield, was unlucky when another spilled catch, this time by Sam Robson at third slip, allowed Tim Ambrose a life on 48. But soon afterwards he had Ian Bell leg before for 62, before gaining revenge against Ambrose on 55.