Middlesex 390 (Stoneman 128, Simpson 76, Hollman 58, Harris 5-90) and 45 for 0 beat Glamorgan 214 (Cooke 52, Higgins 4-59, Murtagh 3-58) and 220 (Lloyd 70, Roland-Jones 5-61) by ten wickets
Two collapses, one of them understandable on the first morning, the other barely forgivable on the third evening, did as much as anything to determine the outcome of this match. That slightly glib assessment gives insufficient credit to the efforts of Mark Stoneman, whose fine century ensured that Middlesex built a match-shaping first-innings lead, so maybe it was fitting that the opener's hearty clump over midwicket off Ajaz Patel sealed Middlesex's ten-wicket victory at 11.30 on this fourth morning, thus giving the newly capped Stoneman and his partner, Sam Robson, time to fit in a coffee and almond croissant at Panzer's delicatessen near Lord's. Even in St John's Wood, cricket matches rarely afford their participants such a civilised opportunity.
Given that Glamorgan began this final day with a lead of 15 runs and just two wickets to fall, the wonder was that something like a couple of hundred souls turned up to watch the game's last knockings. Perhaps some were completists, who hadn't missed a day of Middlesex cricket since Peter Parfitt was a lad; others may have been Yorkshire-born members, who were determined to get their money's worth; and others again probably thought they would test cricket's glorious uncertainty to breaking point.
Sadly, perhaps, the latter group had to make do with inglorious certainty and almost all of them were making their way home fairly soon after seeing Toby Roland-Jones take Glamorgan's last two wickets to finish with match figures of 7 for 111. Patel was caught by Tim Murtagh at mid-off for 9 and Michael Hogan skied one to Ethan Bamber after making an uncultured 14. Bamber held on, which constituted something of an act of atonement, given that he had dropped Patel, a dolly off Roland-Jones indeed, in the third over of the day.
That left Middlesex needing 45 runs to secure the win that takes them up to second in the table and their openers scurried to that target in 5.2 overs, Robson taking three fours in succession off James Harris. Murtagh's side are now 19 points clear of fourth-placed Derbyshire and 12 ahead of Glamorgan, whose inept batting on the third evening could hardly have been timed worse.
"We had a poor session with the bat and it's cost us the game, essentially," said their coach Matthew Maynard. "We lost some poor wickets. There was no momentum and we didn't try and wrestle any back, so we're bitterly disappointed. We need to get that right for the last two games if we've got any chance of promotion. We need to get maximum points from both games to stand any chance."
Maynard is correct in every respect, not least in the implicit recognition that the arithmetic of titles and promotion has suddenly become much clearer. For example, Nottinghamshire now need nine points to secure their return to English cricket's top tier and 21 to win the Second Division title, although that in itself will be a curious achievement given they could well have won the County Championship last season.
Middlesex's fate is also in their own hands after their first Championship victory since May, although they are nothing like such prohibitive favourites for promotion as Nottinghamshire. Nevertheless they chose a good time to scrap for a win in this match and even two productive draws at Leicester and Worcester in their final matches should be enough.
"I'm really happy with the character we've shown and I think the comprehensive nature of the win against a team who had gone above us last game was an important marker," said their skipper Tim Murtagh. "We've done it the tough way, which is really pleasing and we've had a couple of big match-winning performances with Mark Stoneman's hundred and Toby Roland-Jones' five-for."