James Franklin added 91 not out to his first innings 135 as Middlesex kept Worcestershire’s bowlers at bay on the last day to ensure a draw in the LV= County Championship Division One match at Uxbridge.
Middlesex captain Franklin featured in two stands of 103, the first with Joe Burns for the fifth wicket and the second an unbroken partnership for the eighth wicket with James Harris, who finished unbeaten on 59 in a second innings total of 362 for seven declared.
With an overall lead of 286, Middlesex then made sure of avoiding a match over rate points deduction by racing through 11 overs with mainly their part-time bowlers as Worcestershire batted out time on 39 for one in their second innings, with opener Richard Oliver caught at leg slip off Ollie Rayner for six.
Middlesex took ten points from the game, and Worcestershire 12 points – enough to take them off the bottom of the Division One table.
Worcestershire’s last chance of forcing a result on an attritional final day came when Joe Leach struck twice with the second new ball, removing both John Simpson and Rayner in the first eight overs after lunch to leave Middlesex just 183 runs in front at 259 for seven.
But Harris then batted with skill and composure to help Franklin guide Middlesex to safety. Franklin faced 164 balls in four hours and ten minutes at the crease, hitting ten fours, while Harris swung Moeen Ali for six over mid wicket and also struck nine fours in his 115-ball effort.
Moeen, who had bowled just five overs in two short spells when Middlesex were reaching 140 for three by the end of the third day, was thrown the ball for the first over of the last day and ended up taking one for 82 in 27 second innings overs – his longest bowl of the season in championship cricket.
There was also an almost instant success for Moeen, who turned an off break sharply in the day’s third over to bowl Stirling through the gate without addition to his overnight 39 and hint at a late twist.
That left Middlesex on 147 for four, but Franklin and Burns – who resumed on 29 – dealt comfortably enough with everything Worcestershire’s bowlers could throw at them on a pitch that remained defiantly sluggish to the last.
Burns looked sure to complete what would have been a fine hundred but then pulled a long hop from Jack Shantry straight to deep square leg in the penultimate over before lunch, after batting for 164 balls and hitting five fours and two straight sixes off Saeed Ajmal.
Middlesex took lunch on 251 for five, with Franklin 48 not out, knowing that the second new ball was due immediately afterwards and, when Simpson chopped on for 6 and Rayner was leg-before for a duck to an off-cutter, Worcestershire’s hopes were raised again at 259 for seven – a lead of only 183.
It proved only an illusion, however, as Franklin and Harris built their partnership, although England’s management will be pleased that Moeen, who bowled the first eight overs of the day from the Pavilion End – in which he took Stirling’s wicket and conceded just 20 runs – later returned for several more spells.
Middlesex opened the bowling with Paul Stirling and Ollie Rayner, the former bowling in a jumper before turning to the unorthodox duo of Sam Robson and Nick Compton as they rescued their over-rate from -3 to 0 to avoid a points deduction.