LV= County Championship Day Three – Glamorgan v Middlesex
Middlesex race to victory at Sophia Gardens
Middlesex wrapped up a comprehensive win on the morning of day three in Cardiff, Glamorgan going down by an innings and 82 runs.
Middlesex dominated the game throughout and while they benefited from winning the toss and bowling first, the Glamorgan first innings total of just 122 did not accurately reflect the conditions. The quality of the Middlesex seam attack put the Glamorgan batters under pressure, but poor shot selection and a disastrous run out contributed to the outcome.
Glamorgan fought back with the ball after tea on day one and it was only Mark Stoneman in their top order who stood firm. At 110/6 Glamorgan had hopes of restricting the first innings deficit, but John Simpson had other ideas and alongside Toby Roland-Jones saw Middlesex safely into day two with a 49 run lead.
Wayward bowling on the morning of day two allowed the partnership to prosper. When Roland-Jones was finally out for 65, they had put on 103 and Middlesex had a decisive 91 run lead. Tom Helm and Shaheen Shah Afridi both added to Glamorgan’s woes alongside Simpson and when the last man was out they had taken the total to 336, ahead by 214. Simpson was left not out on a well deserved 114.
When Glamorgan came back out to bat, in friendlier conditions than they encountered on day one, the result was unfortunately the same. Wickets tumbled with Roland-Jones leading the way. They were saved from defeat within two days when bad light stopped play, with the score on 104/6, still trailing by 110.
Any hopes of a fight back on day three were stifled in the second over when Roland-Jones induced an edge off the bat of Sam Northeast and Robbie White took his third catch of the match, standing at second slip. Roland-Jones then quickly racked up his fifth when Michael Neser lobbed a catch to mid-on. Helm dismissed Timm van der Gugten, lbw before rearranging Michael Hogan’s stumps to take his third of the innings, Glamorgan ending on 132, still 82 runs adrift.
In total, three of the Glamorgan batters reached the twenties and Neser top-scored with just 27. Despite Simpson’s excellent century, Roland-Jones, with his eight wickets and 65 runs, was the man-of-the-match. He and the other three Middlesex seamers exploited the conditions and set the tone on day one. They will be a handful for most county batting line ups.
Middlesex take away 22 points and Glamorgan three.
Middlesex look a team and more importantly a squad that will be pushing hard for promotion. In Stoneman and Sam Robson they have high class openers, neither of whom will have given up on a Test recall. Peter Handscomb and Steve Eskinazi (absent from this game with a broken thumb) will score plenty of runs and Simpson has shown in this game what he is capable of. There is depth in their seam bowling, with the likes of Ethan Bamber, Blake Cullen and skipper, Tim Murtagh absent from this game. Middlesex have had some lean years since they won the County Championship in 2016, but this looks set to change.
Meanwhile Glamorgan, having jumped to the top of the Division following last week’s win, have some issues to resolve. They lack opening batters, currently fielding David Lloyd, who would be much happier at five and Andrew Salter who would normally be down at eight. The middle order looks strong with Marnus Labuschagne, Sam Northeast and Kiran Carlson but the seam bowling is lacking depth and variety. They have quality performers in Neser and Hogan, backed up by van der Gugten and James Harris, but the likes of Lukas Carey and Jamie McIlroy will need to step up and allow some rotation of these four, as Glamorgan now play every week up to the break for the Blast.
While Middlesex will go away from this game knowing they will be a handful for any team they come up against in Division Two, Glamorgan will be asking questions that it is not clear they currently have the resources to answer.
After the game Glamorgan coach, Matthew Maynard said:
“It was a good toss to win and Middlesex exploited the conditions very well and put us under a lot of pressure. The wicket was a 220 to 250 par in the first innings and we fell well below. We didn’t show the same discipline with the bat that we showed in the first two games and didn’t set a great tone in the second over. There were some soft dismissals and then we fought back really well with the bowling group and got us back in it at 100/6 and if another one, could have been a lead of 40 or so but it didn’t happen.
“The last game won’t define our season and this game won’t define our season.”
With regard to the next game:
“Michael Neser has an infected toe and is starting a course of antibiotics. It’s been very sore in this game. Eddie Byrom is out of contention and the first two days of next week’s second XI game could be crucial for players who may play in Derby.”
For Middlesex, skipper Peter Handscomb said after the game:
“That was pretty close to the blue print we want to play this year. We have done a lot of work on our intensity.”
Commenting about man-of-the-match, Toby Roland Jones:
“We missed him last year for quite a long period of the season and it was good to see him back, just bowling beautifully.”
On Afridi against Labuschagne:
“He fires up old Shaheen for that wicket which is awesome to watch. You have the number one test batter and number one test bowler going at each other.”
On the Middlesex bowlers:
“Proper bowling. All four bowlers were relentless. Did not have to do much with the field.
“We are always looking to improve. Moments in the game where we could have taken a slightly different option and been slightly more ruthless with the ball. Only small things but just because you’ve played a good game doesn’t mean you can’t come away with something else. Always trying to improve.”
Middlesex’s next opponents Leicestershire take note!