In some ways the equation is clear; whoever prevails between Middlesex and Yorkshire will be crowned county champions, while Somerset will only seal first place if the clash at Lord’s ends in a draw or is tied.
Yorkshire earned the fourth batting bonus point required to win the title, regardless of the Somerset result, largely due to an imperious knock of 142 not out by former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan.
The visitors were eventually bowled out for 390, giving them a healthy 120-run lead. Middlesex were reduced to 2-2 in their second innings before recovering to 81-2. Murtagh accepts that some difficult decisions need to be made if they are to conjure victory.
“We obviously want to win the game and try and win the title, that’s a massive thing,” said Murtagh. “But we don’t want to just hand it to Yorkshire and set them something ridiculous, so who knows?”
Bresnan said: “They could have come in four down and we’d have the game by the scruff of the neck. As it is, it’s about even stevens. Even if it’s 200 off 10 overs, we’ve still got to swing and get them. So the ball’s in their court.”
Somerset, meanwhile, steamrolled already-relegated Nottinghamshire by 325 runs. Having declared on 313-4, an innings which included skipper Chris Rogers’ second century of the match, the hosts dismissed Nottinghamshire for a paltry 215.