DURHAM bowler Graham Onions was once again his side’s go-to guy as he delivered his second five-wicket haul of the campaign.
The England seamer took 5-39 from his 20 overs in a rain-affected day at the Emirates ICG.
Both sides had to break for cover throughout the day, and were off the field on no fewer than five occasions as sleet and rain spells interrupted proceedings on a blustery and grey day.
Onions admitted it was hard work for both teams in such conditions, but was obviously pleased that the hosts seemed to cope far better than the visitors.
He said: “Towards the end it was absolutely freezing. When we were on and off the pitch we were talking among ourselves and saying would you rather be a batter or a bowler in these situations.
“As a bowler myself, I was saying you got to get warm, you’ve got to get yourself mentally ready, and all of the batters were saying I’d hate to be batting in this situation.
“It’s not nice conditions for anyone to play cricket in, if I’m being honest, and I think if anything, it probably spiced up the wicket a little bit, which was good for us and for me personally, it was nice to get a few more wickets.”
The five-wicket haul was the 18th of Onions’ career, and while he was delighted to get another under his belt, he won’t be resting on his laurels.
“For me to get wickets for the club that I love, and the team that I love to play for is what it’s all about,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of hard work still to do, and I’ve got another chance to get more wickets in the second innings, and I will be trying as hard as I possibly can to go from 18 five-fers to 19.”
And while he was pleased with his own performance, he was quick to praise the efforts of the Durham bowling attack for sticking to their task as they restricted the Division One leaders to a first inning total of 196 all out, in reply to the home side’s 259.
“When you come off it’s quite easy to take your boots off and relax a little bit, with the short breaks you have got to make sure that you still stay mentally prepared, but also make sure you stay loose, and that when you go back out you make sure you do the business for the team.
“On these types of wicket it’s not going to be 450 plays 500, so it’s small targets that are going to win us the game.
“It was nice yesterday that we all stuck to our plan and did well.
“It’s not an impossible wicket to bat on, but there was enough in it that if you hang in there and you’re consistent enough, you are going to get your rewards.”
Ben Stokes, bowling for the first time in two weeks after injury, went for almost five an over, but picked up two wickets.
The visitors did rally from 35-5 at one point to reach 196 – Neil Dexter (52), John Simpson (42) and James Harris (37) adding some much-needed resistance for Middlesex.
But despite the daunting task of facing 11 overs in the gloom before the close, Durham reached 37-0, giving them a lead of 100 going into day three.