Chris Rogers’ unbeaten 203 against Somerset has given Middlesex the upper hand ahead of their final day relegation deciding encounter with Lancashire.
The Lord’s-based county now travel to Old Trafford next week with a 19-point cushion over the Natwest T20 Blast runners-up.
But it could have been very different had Rogers not batted for 450 minutes and faced 386 deliveries for his double century, which helped Middlesex salvage a draw after looking down the barrel at defeat.
The result could have been very different in the west country, if not for a resilient Australian. Captain Chris Rogers won the toss and opted to put Somerset into bat first, only to watch them make their way to 523-9 before declaring.
In reply, the visitors were in a sorry state of affairs when the scoreboard read 61-7. Eoin Morgan (82) and Toby Roland-Jones (77) did their best to salvage something from the first innings, but the follow on was enforced when the last wicket fell with the total just 223.
The skipper soon stepped up though by batting through the entirety of his side’s 123 second innings overs. He received support from both Dawid Malan (34) and Joe Denly (60) who exhibited their staying power by occupying one end of the crease for nearly three hours each.
Rather than just blocking out, Rogers scored runs as well to eventually put his side in the lead, although a draw was always the target result from such a precarious position.
Northamptonshire’s terrible time in Division One this season has meant that one of the relegation spots has been confirmed for some time now, leaving just one of Middlesex and Lancashire to join them in a lower league next summer.
But Middlesex were able to take seven points away from Taunton after a dramatic comeback. Rescuing a draw could be pivotal in determining their survival come the end of next week.
For Lancashire to stay up, they must beat their relegation rivals and garner maximum points, whilst hoping that Middlesex accumulate less than five bonus points.
However, if Middlesex do pick up five points and Lancashire take 24, then both sides will be level on points. In that scenario, it would be the red rose county that survived on virtue of a head-to-head record because both teams would have won and lost the same number of games throughout the season.
Down to the wire
Seeing as Yorkshire have already wrapped up their 31st County Championship, all attentions should turn towards Manchester when the final round of fixtures gets underway on Tuesday.
With Lancashire looking to pick up maximum bonus batting points, they are likely to be provided with a pitch where a team can capably score 400 in the first innings, but it must also force a result for their sake.
Whilst they will have home advantage, their challenge to avoid relegation has been made even more difficult by Middlesex – and Rogers – clawing their way to a hard-earned draw against Somerset.