Pace­man bags eight to re­mind se­lec­tors

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To toss or not to toss? It was the talk of the County Cham­pi­onship in 2016 when the de­ci­sion to scrap the com­pul­sory flip of the coin was first in­tro­duced.

It was de­signed to ad­dress the “plight of spin bowl­ing and con­cerns about some Cham­pi­onship pitches”; the ex­pla­na­tion of­fered by ECB cricket com­mit­tee chair­man, Peter Wright.

This week at Lord’s the de­sire was, un­der­stand­ably, to pro­duce a ‘re­sult’ pitch to help Mid­dle­sex and their rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle. That saw the um­pires reach for the coin.

The wicket; a vivid green with pro­nounced cracks al­ready ap­pear­ing looked like a seamer’s par­adise. So Mid­dle­sex’s de­ci­sion to bat first re­sulted in chat­ter through­out the Home of Cricket from the play­ers, fans and me­dia alike.

On what is no­to­ri­ously a flat pitch the de­ci­sion to ‘spice it up’ helped turn it into a mem­o­rable day for a boy from Pre­ston, on his first visit to Lord’s.

Tom Bai­ley’s first ten-wicket haul came at the home of cricket, bowl­ing with the aide of that fa­mous slope, some­thing he has rel­ished to try since he was a boy.

“It’s a mas­sive hon­our for me, es­pe­cially for my first game at Lord’s and I’ve re­ally en­joyed it.”

Bai­ley, 26, added: “I’ve al­ways looked for­ward to play­ing here es­pe­cially with the slope, I think its tai­lor-made for my bowl­ing. I’ve dreamt of days like th­ese.”

“I’ve strug­gled to get into the team this sea­son, I had a nig­gle in my side early on but I felt like I’ve bowled pretty well all sea­son.”

“I’ve taken wick­ets in the sec­ond team and I’ve been wait­ing for that op­por­tu­nity to come.”

Back to the toss, even the home cap­tain was un­cer­tain what to do; “My first in­stinct is that we wouldn’t be hav­ing a toss and we’d be bat­ting.”

Vo­ges added; “When we won the toss I still wasn’t sure [what to do] I took the ap­proach that bat­ting last would be tougher.”

Even with match fig­ures of 10-98, Bai­ley feels the un­con­tested toss rule of­fers an un­fair ad­van­tage for the away side, es­pe­cially at this time of year.

“It’s not up to me but I’m against it to be hon­est. Es­pe­cially in Septem­ber when grounds­men strug­gle to pre­pare de­cent wick­ets then the home side have a dis­ad­van­tage.”

The Lan­cas­trian will re­mem­ber his first visit to this fa­mous old ground and his over­rid­ing emo­tion ahead of the open­ing day: “I was just think­ing about the lunches to be hon­est.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Pumped: Lan­cashire’s Tom Bai­ley took his first ten wicket haul for the county

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