James Harris hauls Glamorgan back into contention in crucial Middlesex match
Glamorgan bowler James Harris returned to haunt his former team-mates as he bowled his side back into contention on day one of their vital LV= Insurance County Championship clash with fellow promotion contenders Middlesex at Lord’s.
With Middlesex 90 for one in reply to the visitors’ 214 all out, Harris produced a burst of three for no runs in nine balls from the Nursery End, reducing the hosts to 92 for four and evoking memories of his greatest ever spell of nine for 34 against Durham at the home of cricket in 2015.
Mark Stoneman witnessed the carnage from the other end to remain unbeaten on 72 with Middlesex 132 for four when bad light ended play four overs before the scheduled close.
Earlier Chris Cooke was the mainstay of Glamorgan’s innings with 52, Ryan Higgins taking four for 59 in his first game since returning to the county from Gloucestershire and John Simpson taking five catches behind the stumps.
The start of play was preceded by an impeccably-observed minute’s silence in memory of The Queen.
Given the 10:30am start it was no surprise Middlesex chose to bowl and they struck in the first over, Tim Murtagh getting one to bounce and find the shoulder of Edward Byrom’s bat to give Simpson his first catch of the day.
Toby Roland-Jones matched his skipper’s feat uprooting Glamorgan skipper David Lloyd’s off-stump to leave the visitors nine for two.
Despite the early successes, the home attack showed an understandable rustiness born of a schedule which had not seen them bowl a red ball competitively for 46 days, Murtagh particularly guilty of a spate of half-volleys.
Shubman Gill though never settled. Dropped on eight when Murtagh failed to hold a caught and bowled, his skittish effort ended on 22 when he bottom-edged a pull off Roland-Jones into his stumps.
One wicket brought two when Murtagh (three for 58) found the edge of Sam Northeast’s bat and Simpson did the rest and, when Higgins relieved Murtagh to have Billy Root caught behind, Glamorgan were floundering at 70 for five.
Cooke and Kiran Carlson led a fightback either side of lunch encouraged by too many four balls from the hosts, Murtagh being despatched three times in one over soon after the resumption. As so often though, Murtagh extracted revenge when Carlson nicked him behind to end the stand at 59.
Harris kept Cooke company long enough for him to reach 50 from 80 balls, but Higgins returned to trap him lbw and Cooke’s vigil ended four balls later when he dragged one from Ethan Bamber into his off bail.
Glamorgan did though glean a precious batting point thanks to Ajaz Patel’s entertaining, if unorthodox 36 before Higgins mopped up the tail.
Stoneman opened the hosts’ reply with a spate of boundaries including a glorious square drive off Harris to the short side of the ground.
Fellow opener Sam Robson though went early, taken low down at third slip off Michael Hogan. The former England opener stood his ground but after conferring, the umpires sent him on his way.
Stephen Eskinazi survived a raucous caught behind shout first ball to play some trademark cover drives against seam and spin alike before Harris (three for 47) took centre-stage.
An all-but unplayable ball squared up Eskinazi to take the edge and send him on his way for 31. It transpired the Welsh seamer was simply warming up as in his next over he castled Pieter Malan for a duck before having Max Holden caught at slip first ball by Northeast.
Simpson survived the hat-trick ball and one or two other scares as he and Stoneman steadied the ship before the premature close.
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