Tufnell takes the salute

Middlesex v Worcestershire
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The Independent Online
Phil Tufnell had never scored 50 in first class cricket. The triumphalist "see me" gesture by which the batsman points his bat at his colleagues on the dressing-room balcony lay entirely outside his experience. In 10 years of playing for Middlesex his highest score was a mangy 37.

Yesterday at Lord's Tufnell was able to do so twice, first when he got to 38, and again when he reached 50. He was the dominant partner in an improbable and unbroken last-wicket stand with John Carr of 101 which enabled Mike Gatting to declare only 17 runs behind.

When play began, Middlesex were in dire straights - 52 runs short of the follow-on with four wickets standing. An innings defeat was the likeliest outcome of a match in which a majority of their leading batsmen looked out of sorts and their bowlers had underperformed after Mike Gatting had put Worcestershire in.

John Carr scratched around at one end while Middlesex's tailenders provided the dash. Richard Johnson twice dispatched Richard Illingworth to the long-on boundary. Ricky Fay scored a couple more fours, but both were caught in the covers by Philip Weston off Illingworth, and Middlesex were still eight short of the 219 they needed. Angus Fraser saved the follow- on, hitting a six and two fours in the 29 he scored in a ninth-wicket stand of 40. Tufnell came in with the score on 251 and did Carr a turn by hanging around long enough for him to score his 50, after labouring for three hours and 20 minutes.

To begin with, Carr shielded Tufnell, but soon after Tom Moody brought himself on to break an irritating partnership, Tufnell became greedy for the strike. After he had slashed four boundaries over the slips, Moody retaliated with one of the most unusual fields seen at Lord's: eight men on the off, four of them in the slips and gulley, and still Tufnell sliced the ball through to the boundary.

Tufnell never moved his feet, but he never had to. Poor Moody conceded nine fours to Tufnell, and as time went by he scored through the covers and, eventually over the head of mid-off. His 50 came off 67 balls; he overtook Carr when he was 63. There were 15 fours in his jubilant 67 not out. Maybe Raymond Illingworth will relent and pick Tufnell for the Oval - as an all-rounder.