The all-rounder’s 64* and two wickets keep the hosts ahead of Northants in a close match.
Ryan Higgins backed up an unbeaten 64 with two vital wickets on day two.
On day two of Middlesex’s LV= Insurance County Championship Division One basement matchup against guests Northamptonshire at Merchant Taylors’ School, Ryan Higgins showcased his all-around skill. Higgins led the hosts from the dangers of 127-5 to just their second batting bonus point of the year and a total of 277 — a first-innings advantage of 58. Higgins, in his second stint with the tenants of Lord’s, made 64 not out, his sixth half-century of the season. The other half-centurion for Middlesex was Mark Stoneman, who scored 51; Max Holden scored 41. For Northamptonshire, Rob Keogh made an impression with his off-spin, returning three for 53, while Ben Sanderson got three for 76.
Ricardo Vasconcelos and Justin Broad were removed by Harare-born Higgins when Northamptonshire batted again, leaving the visitors three runs down at the close and only one run ahead of parity. Middlesex utilized a more outstanding risk-and-reward strategy, playing more shots, rotating the strike, and, if feasible, turning ones into twos to put pressure on the fielders. At the same time, Northamptonshire relied on stoic defense for their score on day one. Ultimately, it paid off, but it still needs to be determined whether a side that has to bat last would have enough of a lead with a 58-run margin on a surface with an already unpredictable bounce. Before hitting the seamer back over his head for a six, Stoneman signaled Middlesex’s more aggressive attitude with two fours off one Jack White over. Before Sanderson uprooted his middle stump, Nightwatchman Ethan Bamber kept Stoneman company for the first seven overs by removing more of the gloss off the Kookaburra ball.
As Stoneman and fellow former England opener Sam Robson formed a half-century stand at just under a run per ball, it would be the visitors’ last victory for a while. Sanderson was brutally sliced to the fence by Stoneman twice at the point, while Robson twice hit the cover boundary with beautiful drives. Like many others in the game before him, the right-handed Robson never seemed composed, so it was not shocking when wicketkeeper McManus took the first of his four victims behind the stumps when White found the edge of his bat. Stoneman became the first batter in the game to reach 50 before losing his position in White’s following over as a shortish ball failed to clear the center of the batsman’s left-hander in time for his attempted pull shot. Additionally, on either side of the lunch break, Middlesex appeared to be in for the batting equivalent of “Groundhog Day” when Pieter Malan and John Simpson left for Sanderson and Tom Taylor, respectively. In their 64-man stand, Max Holden made the initial move, cutting and driving the seamers before welcoming spinner Keogh with a reverse sweep for another boundary. Higgins then debuted and swiftly pulled his first ball past square leg for four. However, just as the former England U19 captain seemed to be in control, Keogh managed to slip one past his defenses and trap him on the crease. Josh De Caires didn’t stick around for long, and when Stephen Eskinazi, who was playing at number nine due to a finger injury received on day one, edged into Gay’s hands in the gully, Middlesex’s advantage was only 11 runs.
However, Higgins cruised to a composed 50 from 85 balls with six fours and, with the aid of captain Toby Roland-Jones, guided the hosts to their second batting point of the season, a milestone that was met with raucous, if somewhat ironic, cheers from the Middlesex crowd. Even though the final lead of 58 was not particularly large, it appeared sound, and Higgins struck in his first over to end a promising Ricardo Vasconcelos attempt at 22. Soon after, Broad followed when he edged through to Simpson. Simpson stepped in front of the stumps to prevent the batter from leaving his crease and eliminating the possibility of being leg before.+
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