Final pair ignore script

Middlesex 447 and 171-4 dec Yorkshire 275 and 14-0
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The Independent Online
The two chief contributors to an intriguing day's cricket were looking forward to yesterday evening for quite different reasons. Mark Ramprakash, following Thursday's commanding 134 with a cool-headed 60 not out at a time when Middlesex were in danger of losing control, deserved to figure on the menu well before the cheese and biscuits at the Test selectors' dinner last night. And 36-year-old Peter Hartley will have been relishing some well-deserved refreshment after labouring long with bat and ball.

On a sunshine-and-showers morning, Hartley and his lieutenant Richard Stemp rewrote the script for the match. This had Yorkshire, nine wickets down and hopelessly adrift on Friday evening, bundled back in to bat and losers by an innings by nightfall. Hartley, starting on 34 not out, begged to differ.

Always watchful and often commanding, particularly against David Follett, whose five Friday wickets became ever more expensive as he failed to find a threatening full length, Hartley played the lead role in the first hundred partnership for a last wicket at Lord's since 1981.

Although Yorkshire were still short of the follow-on figure when Stemp spooned the ball back to the seamer Ricky Fay, 98 minutes had gone by and the gap had narrowed enough to persuade Mike Gatting, nursing a sore back, to bat again in search of a declaration.

Hartley was immediately back on duty for a single over before putting in a longer afternoon stint. But while Darren Gough bowled cheaply without penetration, it was Chris Silverwood, 21, looking as brisk as anyone this season, who continued the disruption of the home side's plans. His skipper David Byas only asked him for five overs, but he sheared away the top of the Middlesex order. He is fast and correct, can bat a bit, and could soon cause the sort of stir that Gough aroused three years ago.

Retrenchment was now necessary and Ramprakash laboured 23 balls before finding a run. He then saw two more wickets fall, this time to the persevering Stemp, pitching his slow left-arm into the leg-side rough. But in late afternoon Ramprakash and Keith Brown, coming in to bat almost an hour after his partner but equalling his score, enabled Middlesex to revert to Plan B and put Yorkshire back in with a tricky 30 minutes remaining.

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