Middlesex march is ruined by rain

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The Independent Online

They were definitely robbed. And not for the first time this season either. No sooner do Middlesex work themselves into a good-looking position, and a win was on the cards yesterday, than the weather pours a dampener on proceedings.

They were definitely robbed. And not for the first time this season either. No sooner do Middlesex work themselves into a good-looking position, and a win was on the cards yesterday, than the weather pours a dampener on proceedings.

When play was called off here at 3.30pm after 90 minutes of heavy rain, Middlesex needed just five more wickets to seal an inevitable and a deserved victory.

Middlesex's domination of the match was absolute, first with the bat, then with the ball. More than 170 overs were lost to the weather, but on this showing Middlesex would not have needed half of those to bowl out Worcestershire.

Having begun the day still 147 runs from making Middlesex bat again, when they were saved by the rain, Worcestershire had splashed a disconsolate 80 more runs further along the road, but still 67 runs away from avoiding an innings defeat.

The stars of the Middlesex show, on what there was of the final day, were their spinners Phil Tufnell, who finished with seven admirable wickets in the match, and Keith Dutch, who proved difficult to get away.

Dutch, no slouch with the bat either, is clearly growing in confidence and together with Paul Weekes, who had three loud shouts with his first three balls of the second innings, is proving an ideal foil for Tufnell.

As for Worcestershire, there is scant consolation for them. Denuded of Graeme Hick and Vikram Solanki, the batting line-up looked uncertain and short of runs. Paul Pollard, brought in from Nottinghamshire to stiffen the order, is in the middle of a lean trot.

Coming into this match he had amassed 21 runs in six outings. At least his personal graph is moving exponentially, in that he scored a total of 34 in these two innings, but for the unfortunate opener Philip Weston there was the misery of a pair.

While the left-arm spinner Matthew Rawnsley looks a more than able replacement for the injured Richard Illingworth, a stomach bug meant that the promising Kabir Ali was not just off-colour but off line as well.

The Australian Test fast bowler Glenn McGrath proved awkward to score off, but even he had no answer to Middlesex's Andrew Strauss or Mark Ramprakash.

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