Rain comes to the rescue for Middlesex as Durham settle for the draw

Middlesex 188 & 179 Durham 238 & 82-6 (Match drawn)

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The Independent Online

Given that more than half the scheduled playing time was lost to the weather, a draw was always the likeliest outcome here.

An original target of 130 to win from 45 overs gave Durham a chance but heavy rain in the mid-afternoon left them pursuing a much-less likely 122 off 16.

In the event, Middlesex came closest to pulling off a result after England pace-bowler Steven Finn took four for 43, Durham finishing six down.

With interruptions taken into account, Middlesex were saved in effect by a ninth-wicket partnership between Tim Murtagh and John Simpson yesterday, which held up a Durham push for victory after Graham Onions had begun the afternoon session with a double-wicket maiden.

Dismissing Chris Rogers, who had looked to be Middlesex's last hope of salvaging something, and then Gareth Berg in the space of three deliveries, the Durham pace-bowler appeared to have the home side by the throat at 91 for eight, with a lead of only 50.

It followed a morning in which most of Middlesex's batting had been scarcely more convincing than their returning England captain, Andrew Strauss, who had followed his second-ball dismissal for a duck on Friday with a tortured 25-ball six on Saturday, having been dropped on nought before Onions bowled him for a second time.

Onions, driven by his desire for a Test recall, finished with 10 wickets in a match for the first time in his career. He bowled only three more overs, oddly, in the hour that followed that double strike, which was one in which, had the weather held up, Durham let an opportunity slip away.

With Murtagh swinging bravely and John Simpson, the wicketkeeper, batting intelligently in support, the Durham bowlers stopped finding the edges and conceded 82 in 15 overs before Murtagh's luck ran out on 45 against what was, in the event, a poor leg-side ball from Claydon.

Simpson went soon afterwards, attempting to heave leg-spinner Scott Borthwick over mid-wicket, but the target for Durham had swelled to 130 when it might easily have been 60.