Eskinazi stands tall for Middlesex before bad light ends play

Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Lord’s (day three):
Middlesex 194 (42.1 overs): Eskinazi 94; Hogan 5-49, van der Gugten 4-63
Glamorgan 38-4 (15.5 overs): Murtagh 4-12
Middlesex 1 pt, Glamorgan 3 pts

Stevie Eskinazi stood tall for Middlesex on a day of otherwise clattering wickets in the Specsavers County Championship match against Glamorgan at Lord’s.

While all others, with the possible exception of John Simpson, struggled to put bat to ball, the South African-born right-hander plundered 16 boundaries in scoring 94 at more than a run a ball.

The fact his efforts were not enough to raise a batting point for the hosts was largely down to a five wicket-haul for Glamorgan skipper Michael Hogan, ably supported by Tim Van Der Gugten (4-63) who after having Eskinazi caught behind, ran through the Middlesex tail.

Tim Murtagh conjured up a trademark spell of 4-12 from the Nursery End to leave Glamorgan floundering at 38-4 in reply before the bad light and then rain which has dogged the fixture from day one returned to drive the players off at 3:30pm.

After the washout on day two, play began promptly and Hogan was soon among the wickets, removing Hilton Cartwright’s off-bail with a delivery to which the Australian international offered no shot. He would strike again four overs later when Paul Stirling nicked a good ball to wicketkeeper Chris Cooke.

Eskinazi, who’d struck five boundaries on the first day, continued untroubled, his eighth four taking him to 50 from 58 balls. Just back from missing two games through illness he became the first member of Middlesex’s top six to reach a half century in the Championship this season.

As if in celebration, he then hit Lukas Carey for three fours in the following over. Wicketkeeper Simpson caught the mood, playing some similarly aggressive shots and the hosts had real momentum when bad light intervened with the score on 152-5.

The 25-minute delay worked in Glamorgan’s favour when shortly after the restart Eskinazi chased a wide one from Van der Gugten to depart six short of what would have been a wonderful hundred. Nevertheless, in these conditions his was an outstanding effort.

Shorn of their mainstay Middlesex subsided quickly either side of lunch, especially after Simson edged Van der Gugten to Nick Selman in the slips.

Fittingly, Hogan (5-49), Glamorgan’s standout bowler, grabbed the final wicket, getting Murtagh for a duck as Middlesex fell six short of a precious batting point.

Murtagh though soon took centre-stage with the ball, conjuring just sufficient seam and swing to leave Glamorgan’s batsmen in a lather.

Jack Murphy and Shaun Marsh were both trapped LBW before Selman, earlier struck on the head by a bouncer from debutant Tom Barber, was bowled by one which went between bat and pad.

The very next ball, an out-swinger found the edge of Aneurin Donald’s bat and was pouched by Simpson leaving Murtagh on a hat-trick which Cooke negotiated before the weather closed in.