Day 1 Close: Middlesex 271-6 (Robson 75, Eskinazi 62*)
At the start of the two-day friendly match against Northamptonshire at Merchant Taylors’ School, it was agreed that Middlesex would bat first on the opening day and unless they were bowled out before the close of play, Northamptonshire would bat at the start of play on day two,
Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins opened the innings for Middlesex and Azharullah struck with the fifth ball of the day when he had Gubbins caught at the wicket by Adam Rossington for a duck. Paul Stirling joined Robson and the pair were given a searching examination by the visitors’ opening attack of Azharullah and Gleeson who got some ‘nip’ off the wicket – the pair each bowled six overs and conceded only a combined total of seventeen runs before they were replaced by Steven Crook and Ben Sanderson.
Crook was somewhat wayward, conceding nineteen runs in three overs before he was replaced by Shazaid Ali. Sanderson opened with four consecutive maidens and the total had reached only 37-1 after twenty overs before Ali had Stirling caught by Alex Wakely at second slip for 21. Dawid Malan joined Sam Robson and the pair saw Middlesex through to lunch at 62-2 after thirty overs with Robson 22 not out and Malan 13 not out.
After lunch, batting appeared a little easier and Malan and Robson brought the hundred up in the 40th over. However, Sanderson who had only conceded a total of six runs in seven overs before lunch returned to the attack and he struck with his second delivery when Malan steered him to second slip where Wakely took the catch to dismiss him for 31. James Franklin joined Robson who reached a solid fifty in the following over (off 145 balls, 7 fours).
Robson advanced his total to 75 before he fell to a stunning catch by Ben Duckett who ran backwards from mid-on before diving to his right to hold a one-handed catch to give Graeme White a wicket, Robson had faced 180 balls and his innings included 11 fours. Ryan Higgins joined Franklin at the wicket and the pair took the total to 169-4 before Higgins was trapped LBW by Shazaid Ali for 16 and tea was taken with Franklin on 11 not out.
After tea, Steve Eskinazi joined his skipper at the wicket and after the remaining two balls of the part over were bowled by Ali, a new-ball was taken by arrangement between the two sides (the same will apply on the second day). Eskinazi and Franklin saw off the threat of the second new-ball from Azharullah and Sanderson and the two hundred came up in the 71st over. It was not until James Franklin had reached 26 that he hit his first boundary in his innings when he pulled a White delivery for six over wide long-on.
Eskinazi then took twelve runs off White’s next over and the total reached 248-5 before Ali returned to the attack and with his first delivery, had Franklin caught at second slip by Wakely for 42 (off 121 balls). Toby Roland-Jones joined Eskinazi who reached a 75 ball fifty in the 86th over (5 fours) and the pair took Middlesex to 271-6 at the close of play after 90 overs with Eskinazi 62 not out and Roland-Jones 7 not out. Azharullah had figures of 1-45 in 16 overs with Ali taking 3-72 in 21 overs, Sanderson 1-29 in 16 overs, White 1-53 in 16 overs, Gleeson 0-41 in 17 overs whilst Crook finished with 0-26 in 4 overs.