Middlesex 246 & 111-3 trail Essex 542-3d by 183 runs
Nick Compton dug in with an obdurate half-century to frustrate Essex’s hopes of wrapping up a fifth Specsavers County Championship win after Simon Harmer snapped up three quick wickets at Chelmsford.
Compton teamed up with Paul Stirling in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 62 as Middlesex, needing 296 to make Essex bat again, fought to save the game and avoid a second defeat in three games. They reached the interval at 113 for three, Compton on 57.
Off-spinner Harmer bowled 15 overs from the River End before switching ends for the last over of the first session of the day. At that stage he had taken three for 47 and moved his personal wicket tally to 22 in the last four innings.
Middlesex went 13 overs unscathed in the gloom last night, but Harmer made the breakthrough with the first ball of the final day. Nick Gubbins pushed forward to try and kill the turn and only managed to loop it into Alastair Cook’s hands at first slip.
Compton, who had reached seven off 33 balls, decided to try and hit Harmer out of the attack with a six over long leg. It didn’t work and the off-spinner had a second wicket with the score on 49.
Stevie Eskanazi edged another that turned in, it hit Cook in the chest, who scooped the falling ball across to Varun Chopra to dive full-length and take the catch at leg slip.
In his next over, Harmer had Dawid Malan playing back as if to cut, only to miss the ball completely and lose his bails.
Compton played watchfully, though he was made to understand why you don’t leave anything alone outside off-stump to Harmer as one fizzed in and almost shaved the wicket. However, when Harmer strayed fractionally off line, Compton pulled him to the midwicket boundary.
Stirling received a let-off when he had eked out 19, Cook putting down a routine chance from an edge off Paul Walter. The fourth-wicket partnership reached fifty from 18 overs before Compton’s sixth four took him to his own half-century from 111 balls.