Jul 1 2011 By Jon Batham
LIVERPOOL VICTORIA COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP – DAY FOUR Gloucestershire 459-9 dec & 229-8 declared Middlesex 325 all out Match Drawn - Middlesex 8pts Gloucester 11
ANTHONY Ireland repaid a long-standing debt as Middlesex saved a draw in the County Championship game with Gloucester at Uxbridge.
Three years ago, the quick bowler defied the likes of Steven Finn for 95 minutes in a last-wicket stand with Ian Saxelby as Gloucester denied Middlesex a win at Bristol which ultimately cost them promotion.
However, having switched sides over the winter, Ireland went from zero to hero as he helped centurion Chris Rogers to defy his former team-mates and keep Middlesex ahead of their rivals in this season’s promotion race.
All the drama of the day unfolded in the first 11 overs as Middlesex battled against the spectre of the follow-on.
They resumed on 283-7 with 27 still needed to avoid being asked to bat again and hopes resting on Rogers (125 not out) and Tim Murtagh (7).
Their hopes looked bleak when in just the second over of the day with 25 still needed Murtagh was trapped LBW by Jon Lewis without adding to his overnight score.
However, it proved the cue for Ireland to come in and use his giant frame to good effect, thrusting his foot well down the pitch and blocking up one end while Rogers nudged Middlesex nearer to safety.
The Aussie opener clubbed Ian Saxelby for four to raise 300 for the hosts’ earning them an extra batting point and bringing them to within touching distance of their target.
And this was achieved when Ireland slogged Jack Taylor over cow corner for four to the relief of the watching Middlesex faithful.
Sadly Rogers fell two runs short of his 150 when he was yorked by David Payne, who two balls later repeated the trick to remove Ireland for 16 – the same number of runs he had made in the match three years before.
Having failed to enforce the follow-on Gloucester showed no ambition to set up a decent finish, batting out the remainder of the day to score 229-8 with skipper Kane Williamson top scoring with 73.
Tim Murtagh was the pick of the Middlesex attack as he returned figures of 3-28.