Twenty20 specialist Eoin Morgan showed the rest how to switch into four-day mode as he stood firm to guide Middlesex to a six-wicket LV= County Championship victory against Durham at Lord’s yesterday.
Needing 44 with eight wickets intact at the start of play, Middlesex had added only three when Adam Voges departed in the third over. But Morgan converted his overnight 23 into an unbeaten 39, while skipper Neil Dexter survived a shaky start to make 25 before he fell with one run needed.
Voges fell without addition to his 36 when he shaped to pull a ball from Graham Onions and misjudged the bounce as he skied a catch to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard.
It was the latest of the game’s many injudicious strokes, and there were a few more jitters as Onions twice beat Dexter while Chris Rushworth got past Morgan’s outside edge.
Only five runs had been added in five overs before Morgan, making his first championship appearance of the season, relieved the tension by driving Rushworth through the covers for four.
Dexter then twice drove Onions to the boundary wide of mid off and, with the help of a few edges, only 10 were needed by the time Ben Stokes replaced Onions.
Rushworth kept going, and in the day’s 14th over Dexter pulled him through mid-wicket for four then took a single to bring the scores level.
In attempting to drive the winning run off Stokes he sliced a catch to Will Smith at point, leaving John Simpson to finish it two balls later with a single to cover.
The win took Middlesex above their visitors into third place. Both teams have five wins and as Durham have a game in hand, they are still in contention.
Onions took the individual bowling honours with nine wickets in the match, but as a unit the four Middlesex seamers had the edge, even in the absence of injured duo James Harris and Toby Roland-Jones.
There were queries about the pitch after 32 wickets fell on the first two days, but Onions said: “It wasn’t a 400 pitch but it wasn’t as bad as the scores suggested.
“A lot of good balls have been bowled and Middlesex won because they out-batted us.”
DERBYSHIRE claimed their first LV= County Championship win of the season when they eased to a nine-wicket victory over title challengers Sussex with 11 overs to spare on the third day, their first win at Hove since 1996.
It was a potentially fatal blow to Sussex’s hopes of winning their fourth title since 2003.
They have not won a Championship match at Hove for a year, and they were always up against it after being bowled out for just 133 in their second innings, with Tim Groenewald taking five for 40.
That left Derbyshire needing 174 for victory and they got there in 42.3 overs thanks to an unbroken stand of 102 between skipper Wayne Madsen and opener Ben Slater, who both made unbeaten half-centuries.
Leaders Yorkshire were in trouble as they slipped to 148 for seven, just 141 ahead, against fellow title hopefuls Warwickshire.
Keith Barker (49) and Jeetan Patel (63) took their ninth-wicket partnership for the Bears on to 99 in a crucial first hour, lifting their side to 309 and a first-innings lead of seven.
Yorkshire lost openers Alex Lees and Adam Lyth with 19 on the board and, after a stand of 76 between captain Andrew Gale (34) and Gary Ballance (45), a further flurry of wickets left them struggling to avoid defeat today.