Day 2, Close: Middlesex 203/3
Sam Robson strengthened his claims for a recall two years after his last England appearance with his third hundred of the season as he led a strong Middlesex recovery on the second day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Lord’s.
Robson batted with eye-catching fluency to reach an unbeaten 114 before bad light and rain halted play 28 overs before the close, having led his side to 202 for 3 in an unbroken stand of 153 with John Simpson, who broke a pavilion window during his unbeaten 66.
If the selectors, who are due to announce the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, are picking on current form it will be hard to ignore the claims of Robson, who made the last of his seven Test appearances against India in August 2014.
The 26-year-old broke his thumb in Australia in January and used his recovery period to work on his technique with Middlesex’s batting coach Dave Houghton. On the evidence so far this season it has been time well spent. This was the third century at Lord’s following scores of 231 and 106 against Warwickshire last month and he didn’t offer a chance.
While Robson prospered, it was another tough day for Nick Compton, whose own England place is under threat after a poor start to the season.
Compton made three became the first of two wickets in successive balls for Brett Hutton when he was leg before with the only doubt whether the ball might have passed over the stumps. Compton has now scored 100 Championship runs and been dismissed five times.
When Dawid Malan was strangled down the leg side off the next ball Middlesex were 49 for 3 in response to Nottinghamshire’s 354.
But Robson played beautifully during the afternoon session, driving fluently on the up to anything pitched up and treating short of a length balls with some powerful blows through the leg side, including a boundary off Jake Ball in the third over after tea which brought up his 17th first-class century.
Not surprisingly it was Stuart Broad who asked the most searching questions in two testing spells from the Nursery End, but Robson showed good judgement outside off stump and profited against the rest of the Nottinghamshire attack.
Simpson took a while to play himself in but when left-arm Samit Patel came on he immediately launched him for a straight six, the ball going through a window in the middle tier of the pavilion. Robson, too, enjoyed himself against Patel, using his feet well to pierce gaps through the off side.
Having seen Alex Hales fail to convert a good start when he was out for 73 on the first day Robson seemed eager to cash in. He has so far faced 206 balls and hit 17 boundaries and Simpson 125 balls, 11 of which he hit for four. It was his third half-century of the season.
Things had been a lot tougher for Middlesex against the new ball. Nick Gubbins played on in Broad’s first spell and Hutton’s two wickets came in his first over, but as conditions eased so Robson and Simpson began to dominate.
Earlier, Nottinghamshire’s last three wickets fell in four overs with Toby Roland-Jones finishing with 5 for 61 after ending the innings when he bowled Harry Gurney for a duck.
Samit Patel picked out deep square leg after failing to add to his overnight 86 while Jake Ball lost his middle stump driving loosely at Tim Murtagh.
Day 2, Tea: Middlesex 176/3
An unbroken fourth wicket stand of 127 in 44 overs by Sam Robson and John Simpson revived Middlesex on the second day against Nottinghamshire at Lord’s.
Replying to Notts’ 354, Middlesex were struggling after Brett Hutton removed Nick Compton (3) and Dawid Malan (0) with successive balls to leave them 49 for 3.
But Robson batted superbly and was on course for his third hundred of the season at Lord’s after reaching the break on 93. Simpson started slowly but blossomed after breaking a window in the middle tier of the pavilion with a straight six off Samit Patel. At tea he had reached 60 to help take his side to 176 for 3 from 58 overs.
Day 2, Lunch: Notts 354 all out, Middlesex 61/3
Brett Hutton took two wickets with successive balls, including England hopeful Nick Compton for three, as Middlesex faltered in their reply to Nottinghamshire’s 354 on the second day at Lord’s.
In his first over from the Pavilion End, Hutton swung one into Compton’s pads to win an lbw verdict and then went round the wicket to have Dawid Malan athletically caught down the leg side by Chris Read. Earlier, Stuart Broad had bowled Nick Gubbins (11) off an inside edge. Middlesex recovered from 46 for 3 to reach 61 for 3 at the interval with Sam Robson going well on 33.
Middlesex had finished off Nottinghamshire’s first innings in four overs at the start of the day. Samit Patel failed to add to his overnight 86 before holing out to deep square-leg, Jake Ball (4) lost his middle stump to Tim Murtagh and Harry Gurney was bowled for a duck by Toby Roland-Jones, who finished with 5 for 61