Monday, September 13th, 2021


Josh Baker completed his maiden half century for Worcestershire before some inspired bowling by Charlie Morris on a see-saw second day in the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Middlesex at Lord’s.

Baker struck an unbeaten 61 to spearhead a superb recovery from 44-6 to 171 all out and a first innings lead of 27.

Morris bowled a superb opening spell, which brought him three wickets, and Club Captain Joe Leach also asked plenty of questions of the batsmen on a wicket stiff offering plenty of assistance and encouragement to the seam bowlers.

Middlesex were 39-4 at one stage in their second innings but, like Worcestershire, were able to fight themselves out of a challenging position to close on 233-6 – and overall advantage of 206.

Worcestershire resumed on 113-8 in reply to Middlesex’s 144 all out and Morris (20) lost his middle stump to Tim Murtagh after 17 had been added to give the veteran seamer his fifth wicket of the innings.

But Baker looked in good touch and he hit back-to-back boundaries off Ethan Bamber via a drive on the up through the covers and an on drive back down the ground.

He hit Murtagh for six over mid wicket boundary and a top edge for four which flew over the keeper’s head off Bamber put Worcestershire into the lead.

Baker collected three fours in an over from Murtagh, the second of which brought up his half century. It came off just 45 balls with one six and nine fours.

He finished unbeaten on 61 and dominated a last wicket stand of 41 with Dillon Pennington (3) who was eventually lbw sweeping at spinner Luke Hollman.

Worcestershire had obtained a valuable lead of 27 and then Middlesex openers Mark Stoneman and Sam Robson were given a searching examination by Joe Leach who reeled off five successive maidens in his first spell.

It was Morris who made the first breakthrough and, as on the opening day, he struck in his opening over.

Stoneman failed to score from 36 deliveries before he was leg before to a straight before.

There was more joy for Morris before the lunch interval thanks to a great catch by Gareth Roderick.

Steve Eskinazi (8) turned Morris firmly off his legs but Roderick at mid wicket held onto the low chance and held the ball up in the air in triumph.

Middlesex went to lunch at 35-2 and two further wickets fell in the first two overs after the resumption.

Rob White (4) was undone by a Morris delivery which held its line and he edged through to Daryl Mitchell at second slip.

Then Robson (22) feathered a delivery from Leach through to keeper Ben Cox.

It was 6.2 overs before Leach conceded a run and Max Holden was fortunate to edge him just over Jack Haynes at first slip.

Morris’s seven over spell either side of lunch brought him figures of 7-3-16-3 but then Martin Andersson (45) and Holden led a partial Middlesex recovery during a stand of 66 in 22 overs.

Ed Barnard broke the stand when Andersson went lbw to a ball angled into him at 105-5.

Morris returned to bowl another searching spell in which the Holden and new batsman, John Simpson, played and missed on a regular basis and the odd delivery climbed steeply

Holden (46) looked set to complete a second half century of the game but Pennington removed him at the start of the final session.

He flashed at a delivery at the back of a length and Mitchell made no mistake at second slip in another sharp catch by the opening batsman.

Middlesex keeper John Simpson and Luke Hollman then added an unbroken 80.

Leach took the second new ball with three overs of the day remaining and Hollman was fortunate to inside edge Morris past Cox for four.

Simpson then survived a very confident lbw shout from Leach in the final over of the day.

Morris finished with figures of 17-6-43-3, Leach 19-10-30-1, Barnard 14-2-45-1 and Pennington 16-5-54-1.