Middlesex’s title defence gains momentum with significant win over Yorkshire

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Jeremy Blackmore

A resurgent Middlesex inflicted a crushing innings defeat to extend Yorkshire’s losing streak at Lord’s as the visitors wilted in this week’s midsummer heatwave.

There was to be no repeat of the last thrilling encounter between these two sides when Middlesex clinched the Championship in dramatic style in the dying moments of 2016.

This was a far more one-sided affair. Middlesex bossed the game from day one, following a 187-run partnership between Sam Robson, who sent another nudge to the England selectors with his second big hundred of the summer and Paul Stirling, who recorded his maiden Championship ton after being given licence to bat the way he does in white-ball cricket.

“Matches against Yorkshire are always good games,” said Middlesex skipper James Franklin. “We were fortunate that pretty much from ball one, we had the advantage and we didn’t let up on it.”

But Franklin warned his side cannot afford to lose the momentum after bouncing back from defeat against Lancashire to record their first win of the season: “Last week was disappointing, but sometimes a defeat can be a very good learning curve, so it might have been the spark we needed. Time will tell. We’ve got another important game next week against Essex. It’s great that we’ve had a good few days here, but it’s just one game; we’ve got to get on a roll.”

With several players missing through injury and international call-ups, there was a lot of responsibility on Stirling.

“It’s about time I scored a bit more consistently,” said the Ireland all-rounder. “But I don’t want to take away that natural instinct of attacking, which is the balance I’ve been trying to find.  James Franklin has given me that freedom, to be able to play at the same tempo I do in one-day cricket and try and transfer it into this red-ball game.”

Middlesex’s batsmen were backed up an excellent all-round performance by their bowlers on a pitch offering increasingly uneven bounce. Debutant Ryan Higgins, who admitted almost dropping the phone when told he was playing, chipped in well with 3-35 to back up an experienced attack.

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale said: “To be bowled out twice like we have is poor. We had a long chat and some strong words in this game. We expect a response.”

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