Middlesex accept run gifts

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The Independent Online

Given that Nottinghamshire put them in on a green pitch, Middlesex should be well pleased to be approaching 400 here, but in fact they quite possibly under-achieved. Two substantial partnerships provided the bedrock of their score but each ended with a self-inflicted dismissal and this proved an infectious habit.

Given that Nottinghamshire put them in on a green pitch, Middlesex should be well pleased to be approaching 400 here, but in fact they quite possibly under-achieved. Two substantial partnerships provided the bedrock of their score but each ended with a self-inflicted dismissal and this proved an infectious habit.

Justin Langer was the most noteworthy culprit, taking ad- vantage of some unimpressive bowling to post a rapid century but then allowing himself to be drawn into a spat with Nottinghamshire's David Lucas at the cost of his wicket. Andrew Strauss and Mark Ramprakash also got themselves out, and while the 21-year-old Edmund Joyce had a maiden first-class fifty to celebrate, he too will shudder at the manner of his demise.

In truth, it was generosity reciprocated. Nottinghamshire, their options reduced when Paul Reiffel and Richard Stemp cried off, were sufficiently short of bowlers to give Matt Whiley, a 20-year-old left-arm seamer, his first appearance of the season, although it was by no means his fault alone that Middlesex scored so freely.

Langer, who entered this match with 806 first-class runs, punished Nottinghamshire's short and wayward deliveries so ruthlessly, crashing boundaries to both sides of the wicket, that getting to 1,000 in one swoop seemed entirely possible. The Middlesex captain crossed into three figures - for the third time this season - after 117 balls, clocking up 15 boundaries, to which he quickly added a couple more.

But it was then that he succumbed to a rush of blood. A bouncer from Lucas, also left-arm over, soared over Langer's head as if launched from a howitzer, a wasted ball but sufficient to goad the Australian into trying to hook the next, and a thin edge to the wicketkeeper gave the bowler a cheap success. By then Ramprakash had gone for just a single, bottom-edging a mistakenly-chosen cut, failing to build on a second-wicket partnership of 113 in 23 overs between Langer and Strauss that had ended when the latter tamely steered a catch to second slip.

Joyce, a left-hander from Dublin playing only his second match this season, reached 50 off 112 balls with eight fours, playing some pleasing strokes, although it was another false one that brought about his downfall, after a stand of 101 with David Nash in 33 overs, when he top-edged Franks to extra cover. More runs from Nash and Simon Cook swelled the total, as did a scandalous 54 extras.

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