Good day’s work for Middlesex as batters share fifties around
Middlesex 293 for 8 (Simpson 92, Eskinazi 64, Higgins 53) vs. Leicestershire
Middlesex, who started the penultimate round on 188 – 27 behind leaders Nottinghamshire but 12 ahead of third-placed Glamorgan, ended the day on 293 for 8, with Simpson falling for 92 after Eskinazi had scored 64 and Higgins 53.
After opting to field Middlesex on a pitch that made batting difficult for most of the day, Leicestershire mostly bowled well as Michael Finan finished with 3 for 54, with Tom Scriven and Callum Parkinson taking two wickets each but paying expensive for some sloppy fielding. dropped Eskinazi on the 11th and Simpson on the 29th.
Middlesex had been four down for 91 at lunch after Leicestershire enjoyed a good morning with the ball, but recovered to 196 for 5 at tea
Finan, the 26-year-old left-arm seamer plucked from National Counties cricket, caught the eye again in his third first-class match, starting the day by removing both Middlesex overs in impressive opening form with the new ball.
He dismissed Mark Stoneman with his fifth ball, who straightened enough to have him leg before, then bowled Sam Robson behind his leg. He would have had a third but wicketkeeper Harry Swindells wasted a chance from the glove offered by Eskinazi.
Scriven, another recent addition to Leicestershire’s bowling resources, had Pieter Malan caught behind two balls after he got away with a streaky edge that the second slip probably should have claimed. Skipper and left-arm spinner Parkinson, who listened to some criticism for delaying his introduction against Durham last week, was on after 75 minutes and struck in the final over before lunch when his decision to install short leg for Max Holden reaped yield when Sol Budinger made an excellent one-handed catch.
Eskinazi completed a 94-ball half-century shortly after driving Chris Wright through extra cover for his ninth four. After a wary start to the session against another Test form from Finan, a double bowling change allowed Simpson to get going. A couple of boundaries off Scriven were particularly easy on the eye.
Leicestershire got a gift when Eskinazi threw away his wicket. Presumably in an attempt to create another angle, he walked down the pitch almost before Scriven reached the crease, leaving his stumps completely exposed. It was the cricket equivalent of an open goal and Scriven gratefully converted.
That ended a 49-run partnership for the fifth wicket, but by tea Simpson and Higgins had added another 56, with Simpson having been the recipient of 29 off another dropped catch, this time set down at mid-wicket off Ed Barnes .
A six down the ground by Simpson off Rehan Ahmed’s leg spin just after tea was followed by the wicketkeeper-batsman’s seventh boundary, easing past extra cover from Scriven and taking him to a fifty off 104 balls, his eighth of the season.
The sixth wicket pair then patiently built against some tidy Leicestershire bowling but their partnership was broken on 99 when Higgins, who had just completed a solid 94-ball half-year with a well-timed clip through mid-wicket for four, took a stride forward to a ball from Parkinson that turned just enough to find the edge, Colin Ackermann had the chance to slip after losing it at mid-wicket.
With that, Parkinson held off asking for the new ball and Ahmed justified the decision when Luke Hollman topped an attempted sweep straight to backward point, leaving Middlesex 248 for 7.
When the new ball arrived, Simpson looked to enjoy the pace back into the bat, but after moving into the 90s by driving a free throw from Finan down the ground for his 10th four, he went to sweep the next ball and lived to regret it, sending up a top edge that Budinger safely put in the deep.
The day began with both teams forming a guard of honor for umpire Nick Cook, who is standing in his last match at this ground ahead of his retirement at the end of this season at the age of 66. Cook was born in Leicester and took 395 first . -class wickets for Leicestershire as a left-arm spinner, as well as 52 in 15 Tests.