Duckett the only bright spot as Middlesex administer a drubbing

Ben Duckett
Ben Duckett

Everything went to script on day four of the LV= County Championship clash with Middlesex as the visitors wrapped up an emphatic innings and 84-run victory.

Six wickets remained when play got under way and although some belated resistance was provided, Ben Duckett providing the faithful with something to cheer, it was never going to be enough for Northamptonshire to get out of the deep hole they were occupying.

The upshot of it all is that they have lost their four Championship outings, three by an innings, and there is some serious work to be done if a mess isn’t to become a calamity.

Needing a scare-free opening if they were to have any chance at all of avoiding the seemingly inevitable, the opening half an hour provided a poison to this wish.

The trio of Rob Newton, Andrew Hall and David Murphy had all been sent back to the sanctuary of the dressing room, the former by Tim Murtagh and the latter duo by Toby Roland-Jones.

Only Hall could be accused of getting himself out as he was caught behind driving loosely at a delivery that wasn’t there for the shot - he’s now scored just 105 runs in 10 innings this year - but that won’t be of any consolation to a side who are battling to keep their heads above water.

Newton had already departed in the fourth over of the day as he feathered, to his obvious disgust, Murtagh’s first ball of the day to John Simpson and when Murphy recorded his fourth duck of the season, becoming Roland-Jones’ 10th wicket of the game, the end looked nigh.

But on a surface that remained fairly true, Duckett and Ian Butler showed what could be achieved with a heads down approach.

In the best part of 90 minutes before lunch, they added a pedestrian, actually that is doing pedestrians a disservice, 23 to the total but the most important factor was that they looked in little trouble.

This continued after the lunch break and a fair indication of the obduracy shown is that when Butler faced his 100th delivery, he had scored just three.

Duckett was showing a touch more adventure at the other end and his half century, only the second of his career, was well deserved.

But while the spinners were being played with relative ease, the second new ball was around the corner and once Roland-Jones - who finished with match figures of 12-105 - had Butler taken at the wicket that was as good as it.

Duckett was then caught hooking for the second time in the game and all that was left was for Muhammad Azharullah to be run out attempting a risky single after Simpson had fumbled down the leg-side.