Masterful Moxon

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The Independent Online
Middlesex 516-9

Yorkshire 250 and 179-2

MIDDLESEX are still winning this fixture by a street and taking what may be a decisive step towards the Championship, but they have been unable to dim the brightest star north of the Trent, the form of Yorkshire captain Martyn Moxon.

Moxon batted for six hours over two days to delay Yorkshire's first follow-on this year; he also became the first Yorkshire player to score a century against Middlesex since Ashley Metcalfe and his 216 not out in 1988.

Batting again, 47 minutes after the end of the Yorkshire first innings, Moxon completed his 1,000 runs for the summer (in 10 matches, having broken his thumb twice) with a six off John Emburey. He was also 12 runs away from becoming the first Yorkshire batsman to score a century in each innings, since Metcalfe against Notts in 1990, when Tufnell's sharp turn caused a slip catch.

Moxon's heroics apart - he batted in all for 83 overs yesterday in very poor visibility on a sometimes wickedly turning pitch of variable bounce - the game was almost certainly lost to Yorkshire from the moment they lost the toss. Another factor was Phil Tufnell who, having been released by England, arrived here about half-an-hour before Richard Stemp dem- onstrated on Thursday afternoon that the ball would turn, increasingly.

So by the third morning Yorkshire, 202-3 overnight, were at the mercy of the best pair of club spinners in the world. Their remaining seven wickets went down for 48 runs in 85 minutes, 30 minutes having been lost to rain and bad light. Whatever happened to the drought?

Lethal as Tufnell and Emburey can be, the Yorkshire middle and tail, with nothing to lose, stayed rooted in the crease, rabbits transfixed by Mike Gatting's glare just three feet away.

Batting again, Yorkshire were more positive. Michael Vaughan, whose reach and lightness of foot qualify him to become a good player of spin, made a pleasing 49 before being trapped by a ball that lifted ankle high.

That left Moxon with David Byas, the left-hander notoriously susceptible to spin, but the pair gritted it out for another 32 overs and 65 runs. It was spit and sawdust cricket but the cognoscenti, huddled behind raincoats and umbrellas, were engrossed. Even Michael Bevan showed an unnatural patience and restraint until rain at 5.45pm brought a premature close.