Nottinghamshire slipped to their first defeat of the new LV= county championship season as they went down to Middlesex by 10 wickets at Lord’s.
Bowled out for 224 in their second innings, after losing their final five wickets in just 68 minutes, they left the home side a victory target of just 112, which was achieved by the openers in only 18 overs.
The margin of victory left Mick Newell admitting that his side had been totally outplayed, “Yes, I think we have,” he said. “I think we did OK on the first day but obviously a score of 320 was not enough and over the next two and a half days it has been Middlesex who have played the better cricket.
“Looking back, we had five scores of between 40 and 62, we needed a couple of those to be turned into proper scores, like their batsmen did. Had we done so we’d have reached 400 and that’s where we needed to be.”
The director of cricket explained the approach on the final morning. “Realistically we needed to bat for at least two to three hours to give ourselves a chance but the captain is struggling. He picked up a nasty shoulder injury diving in their first innings and once he’d nicked off early the pressure was on Riki to try and get some runs with the tail. If anybody was going to put a good score on the board it would have been him but it wasn’t to be this time.
“We outplayed Lancashire last week and have now been well beaten ourselves this time. It goes to show why this is such a strong competition.”
Notts had begun the final day on 184-5, an overall lead of just 71. Their main hope of salvation lay in the unbroken overnight sixth wicket stand between Chris Read and Riki Wessels, who showed enough nous on the third evening to put on 64 untroubled runs together.
Sadly, from the visitors perspective, they were parted from the eighth ball of the session, Read (44) drawn into playing at one from Murtagh which nipped away and kissed the edge.
Then Wessels (34), who had begun positively and looked to take the fight to the bowlers, looped a pull off the same bowler to mid on.
Peter Siddle (12) was undone by the extra bounce as James Harris came into the attack, clipping off the shoulder to wicketkeeper John Simpson and Murtagh (5-61) got his fifth by yorking Andy Carter (0).
Finn closed out the innings as Luke Fletcher (5) tried to heave him away to leg but only succeeding in ballooning the ball high into the air with Simpson’s gloves waiting underneath.
Of the 20 Nottinghamshire wickets to fall in the match Finn claimed nine of them, Murtagh six and Harris the other five.
Read had been struck on the hand whilst batting on the third day and didn’t take to the field as Middlesex began their chase, with Wessels keeping wicket.
Chris Rogers and Sam Robson made an impressive start in the forty available minutes before lunch, slicing off 52 of the required 112 in just eleven overs.
Repeating the margin of their Trent Bridge win last April the pair raced over the finishing line in early afternoon with Rogers ending on 63 and Robson completing a fine individual match with a score of 41 not out.
Nottinghamshire’s next championship match is at Trent Bridge against Warwickshire, beginning on Sunday 27th April 2014.