GRAHAM Onions admitted his Durham side hadn’t batted well enough as their County Championship hopes took a hit with a six-wicket defeat against Middlesex yesterday.
Onions produced another great bowling performance at Lord’s, outshining England colleague Steve Finn, but it wasn’t enough to guide his side to victory.
Twenty20 specialist Eoin Morgan showed the rest how to switch into four-day mode as he stood firm to guide Middlesex to a win that lifts them above Durham in the table.
Needing 44 with eight wickets intact at the start of play, Middlesex had added only three when Adam Voges departed in the third over, becoming Onions’ ninth victim of the game.
But Morgan converted his overnight 23 into an unbeaten 39, while skipper Neil Dexter survived a shaky start to make 25 before he fell with one run needed.
Voges fell without addition to his 36 when he shaped to pull a ball from Onions and misjudged the bounce as he skied a catch to wicketkeeper Phil Mustard.
It was the latest of the game’s many injudicious strokes and there were a few more jitters as Onions twice beat Dexter while Chris Rushworth got past Morgan’s outside edge.
But Dexter and Morgan killed any hopes Durham had of a comeback although the former was dismissed with the scores level, slicing a catch to Will Smith off the bowling of Ben Stokes.
The win took Middlesex above their visitors into third place. Both teams have five wins and as Durham have a game in hand, they are still in contention.
Onions took the individual bowling honours with nine wickets in the match, while there were queries about the pitch after 32 wickets fell on the first two days.
But Onions said: “It wasn’t a 400 pitch but it wasn’t as bad as the scores suggested. A lot of good balls have been bowled and Middlesex won because they out-batted us.”
It now remains to be seen if Onions will be available for tomorrow night’s T20 quarter-final at Northamptonshire, as he could win a recall to the England squad for the fourth Test against Australia on his home ground, starting on Friday.