Adam Voges fought hard in his first match as Middlesex captain and Nick Compton, who hopes to replace him when he leaves for Australia’s tour of the West Indies next month, even harder to frustrate Nottinghamshire after three days of supremacy at Lord’s.
Compton batted more than four hours for 85 off 217 balls, Voges made a more fluent 72 off 101 balls and though both of them fell to Harry Gurney, Nottinghamshire’s most threatening bowler, James Harris and Tim Murtagh held out for 19 overs in an eighth wicket stand to salvage a draw that felt as good as a victory for Middlesex.
A victory target of 519 was out of the question when Middlesex began the final day on 57 for one but Nick Gubbins, the 21-year-old left-hander, and Compton, playing his first championship match since rejoining Middlesex from Somerset, showed what could be achieved by defying Nottinghamshire until the last over before lunch. with a second wicket partnership of 132.
There was nothing in the pitch for the five Nottinghamshire seamers – Gurney, Vernon Philander, Jake Ball, Steve Mullaney and Will Gidman – or the left arm spinner Samit Patel and Gubbins and Compton had put on 132 when Patel had Gubbins caught at short leg for a painstaking 37.
Compton, who at one stage went 10 overs without scoring a run before reaching his fifty off 140 balls, was more expansive after lunch and seemed on course for his fourth century against Nottinghamshire when Gurney found some lift to have him caught at first slip off his glove.
Next ball Paul Stirling, the last of the recognised batsmen because Dawid Malan had his right hand in plaster after breaking it trying to take a catch in the slips, was caught at second slip in similar fashion and Middlesex were effectively 174 for five.
Voges, fresh from an outstanding Australian season which won him a place in their Test squad, was a reassuring presence, however, and John Simpson helped him Voges add 57 before he played on to Ball.
Harris offered equally staunch support but it looked as though Gurney had struck a match-winning blow when he brought one back down the slope to bowl a disbelieving Voges off an inside edge.
There were still 24 overs remaining and Tom Helm soon followed, leg before to Patel, but Harris continued to bat with great determination on his way to 36 and Murtagh shrugged off a blow on the arm from Gurney to make 18.