Gatting ups the heat

Gloucestershire 208 and 222 Middlesex 441 Middx won by inn & 11 runs
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The Independent Online
THIS WAS Middlesex's sixth win in eight matches. The heat is on Warwickshire, the champions, Northamptonshire the would-be first-time winners and Lancashire, the original favourites, but it's the Metropolitans who may have the nerve and the resources to emerge first after what may be a torrid last two months.

This hot and steamy day at Nevil Road tested those qualities. Middlesex, at 410 for two, were 202 ahead at the start, Mark Ramprakash and Mike Gatting were both past 100 and one of the early questions was: could they pass the record Compton-Edrich third wicket record of 424?

No. In a spell of 52 balls from the pavilion end Javagal Srinath, Gloucestershire's Indian overseas professional, took six Middlesex wickets for eight runs as the last eight wickets fell for 31 runs in 76 minutes.

Srinath, recommended by Courtney Walsh, bowled cleverly on a wearing pitch, varying his pace, using the humidity so that successive batsmen were presented with any number of problems, lateral and vertical movement and variable bounce. Gatting misjudged the pace and pulled tamely to midwicket while Ramprakash, the one player who looked capable of surmounting the crisis, was surprised by a swifter delivery from Kevin Cooper.

Late movement off the pitch defeated John Carr and Dion Nash. Gloucestershire, who must have expected to face a total over 400, were in fact only 233 adrift when they restarted before lunch - with some success with the ball it was now down to their batsmen.

However, once Richard Johnson switched to the Tavern End and a fifth bowler, Mark Feltham, appeared from the Pavilion, they struggled. Tony Wright, in form, sliced to third man while Dean Hodgson, eight runs later, found his defensive push off-centre. So it went on - Rob Cunliffe bowled by a break-back, Monte Lynch leg-before pulling, and Andrew Symonds adjudged harshly, hit on the front pad.

Johnson, after tea, removed Jack Russell and Ricky Williams with successive balls, but Mark Alleyne then led a long retreat, Middlesex unable to bowl Phil Tufnell for a long spell because of a muscle strain. Alleyne was last out as Gatting appointed Paul Weekes the executioner.

As for Srinath, virtually unknown here when Gloucestershire signed him, he has now taken 16 wickets in his last three innings and 46 for the season.