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19/07/2024 14:00

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    Bens Mike and Green Blow Middlesex Away on 21-Wicket Day
Bens Mike and Green Blow Middlesex Away on 21-Wicket Day
Middlesex Team. Source: skysports.com

Bens Mike and Green Blow Middlesex Away on 21-Wicket Day

Leicestershire 179 (Higgins 4-35, Roland-Jones 4-63) and 40 for 1 lead Middlesex 86 (Mike 5-22, Green 4-28) by 133 runs

Career-best bowling from Ben Mike and loan signing Ben Green enabled Leicestershire to dismiss Middlesex for 86 as the opening day of their Vitality County Championship match saw 21 wickets fall in bowler-friendly conditions.

Earlier, Ryan Higgins and Toby Roland-Jones led the way for Middlesex as Leicestershire were bowled out for 179. Lewis Goldsworthy and Lewis Hill shared a 65-run partnership for the third wicket before a collapse from 82 for 2 to 126 for 8 was rescued by fast bowler Scott Currie's unbeaten 34.

Leicestershire extended their lead to 133 by reaching the close at 40 for 1 after Sol Budinger, caught off a top-edged pull, was out for the second time in the day.

Green, the 26-year-old all-rounder, is Somerset's leading wicket-taker in the Blast this season but has not figured in their red-ball side. He played three Championship matches for Leicestershire earlier in the season and is back at Grace Road as emergency cover for the latest round, with seven senior members of the Foxes' first-team squad either injured or unavailable.

Leicestershire had surprised some onlookers by opting to bat first. On a green pitch and with heavy cloud cover, it was hardly a surprise that the Middlesex seam attack should find plenty of encouragement.

They removed both Leicestershire openers within the first seven overs. A rare failure from Rishi Patel, leg before half-forward to Roland-Jones for his first single-figure score of the season, preceded the departure of Budinger, who marked his first appearance of the season with two boundaries before edging Higgins to give Leus du Plooy the first of three catches at second slip.

Middlesex could not immediately press home their advantage, with Henry Brookes and Ethan Bamber struggling to bowl the right lines at first. As they added 65 over the course of the next hour or so, it might have appeared that Goldsworthy and Hill were getting the upper hand.

But then Bamber found some late swing from a ball that squared up Hill to have the Leicestershire skipper caught at first slip. Harry Swindells, like Budinger making his seasonal debut, chopped on to Higgins two overs before lunch, leaving the home side 94 for 4.

Worse was to follow at the start of the afternoon, with four more wickets tumbling in the first seven overs of the middle session as more edges flew to hand. Higgins had Goldsworthy snaffled by du Plooy before Roland-Jones struck three times in as many overs.

Louis Kimber followed his epic, record-breaking 243 against Sussex last week with a 15-ball duck, caught at backward point off a leading edge before Green edged to second slip and Ben Cox feathered one behind.

Middlesex were batting 12 overs before tea but were three down by the interval and 53 for 6 half an hour after the resumption, which made the 53 runs Leicestershire were able to add for their last two wickets look potentially invaluable.

Higgins dismissed Mike's leg before and Brookes had Matt Salisbury caught at third slip, but Currie's six boundaries gave their bowlers something to work with.

Indeed, after Mike found the edge to have Mark Stoneman caught at second slip in his first over and produced an inswinger missed by Sam Robson, Green's spell at the pavilion end soon had Middlesex in trouble.

Max Holden was given out caught behind off an inside edge from the Devonian's second ball before his first two overs after the tea interval included a near-unplayable delivery to bowl Higgins and one that took the edge of Josh De Caires's bat to give Currie a catch at third slip.

An airy drive saw Jack Davies caught behind to give Green his fourth at 70 for 7 before Mike returned with three wickets in five overs, bowling Luke Hollman with a full delivery, trapping Roland-Jones leg before with a full toss and notching his second career five-for as du Plooy fell for 28, bowled between bat and pad.

Matt Salisbury completed the rout by bowling Bamber before the home side, batting positively added 40 in nine overs with Budinger, who hit six and two fours in his 18, the one casualty.

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