DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY

MIDDLESEX 208-5

Nick Gubbins defied Yorkshire’s five-man seam attack with a battling 120 not out at Lord’s to guide Middlesex to 208 for 5 on the opening day of the potential Specsavers County Championship title decider between the top two in Division One.

Gubbins, the 22-year-old left-hander, reached his fourth championship hundred of the season by pulling Ryan Sidebottom for six into the Grand Stand and an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 54 with James Franklin, who is 21 not out, had tilted the first skirmishes of what promises to be a fascinating contest Middlesex’s way before bad light lopped 14 overs from the final hour’s play.

Yorkshire took the early honours after an uncontested toss, their decision to bowl first vindicated when Middlesex slid to 57 for 3 with Jack Brooks taking 2 for 22 in a probing new ball spell in overcast conditions. But Gubbins led the fightback and there was a big moment in the day just before tea when Franklin, on 1, was badly missed by Gary Ballance at third slip off an unlucky Tim Bresnan. After the interval, on 96, Gubbins looked to have tickled a legside catch to the keeper off Sidebottom, but umpire Rob Bailey turned down Yorkshire appeals.

Yorkshire only had themselves to blame, though, for letting Gubbins get that far. On 22, with Middlesex’s total 53, Gubbins was also dropped at point by Azeem Rafiq, who leapt to try to claw down a square cut at Steven Patterson but could not cling on. Earlier, Brooks sent back Sam Robson and Nick Compton in his new ball burst, before David Willey held his nerve against Dawid Malan to bowl the aggressive left-hander off an inside edge for 22.

Opener Gubbins, unfortunate not to be selected for England’s winter Test tours after a prolific season in championship cricket in which he has now topped 1300 runs, fought hard to hold Middlesex’s first innings together while both Stevie Eskinazi and then John Simpson hung on with him for a while on a pitch offering occasional low bounce. Eskinazi played on to the impressive Brooks for 12 and Simpson’s innings of 15 ended when he shouldered arms to an inswinger from Bresnan which pinned him palpably in front. Brooks ended the first day with 3 for 45. Robson had been leg-before for a duck in Brooks’ fourth over from the Nursery End, beaten by a full ball angled into him.

Compton was also lbw, for 8, offering no stroke to a ball from Brooks which nipped back up the Lord’s slope. Malan greeted Willey’s introduction by hitting four fours and a two from the first seven balls he faced from the left-arm seamer, but perished when he aimed one expansive off drive too many. Willey, whose first over cost 15 runs, ended up with creditable figures of 1 for 25 from his initial six-over spell. Rafiq’s off breaks were not introduced until the 56th over and he bowled only a handful of overs before Yorkshire took the second new ball immediately it was due.

Two overs later, however, bad light intervened with MCC not allowed to use the Lord’s floodlights because of an agreement with the local council limiting the number of times they can be switched on in a season. That means, in essence, that floodlights cannot be used in any championship fixture on the ground. Yorkshire – aiming to win a third successive county title – began the game nine points behind leaders Middlesex, with both counties wary of third-placed Somerset, who began this final round of games just a point behind Yorkshire and who must beat Nottinghamshire at Taunton if they are to have a chance of finishing as champions for the first time in their history.

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TEA

MIDDLESEX - 168-5

Nick Gubbins defied Yorkshire’s five-man seam attack with a battling 96 not out at Lord’s to guide Middlesex to 168 for 5 by tea in the potential Specsavers County Championship title decider between the top two in Division One.

Yorkshire took the early honours after an uncontested toss, their decision to bowl first vindicated when Middlesex slid to 57 for 3 with Jack Brooks taking 2 for 22 in a probing new ball spell in overcast conditions.

But Gubbins led the fightback and there was a big moment in the day just before tea when James Franklin, on 1, was badly missed by Gary Ballance at third slip off an unlucky Tim Bresnan. Middlesex captain Franklin was on 5 at the interval while Gubbins had faced 181 balls, hitting 15 fours.

Brooks sent back Sam Robson and Nick Compton in his new ball burst, before David Willey held his nerve against Dawid Malan to bowl the aggressive left-hander off an inside edge for 22.

Opener Gubbins, unlucky not to be selected for England’s winter Test tours after a prolific season in Division One of the Specsavers Championship, fought hard to hold Middlesex’s first innings together while both Stevie Ezkinazi and then John Simpson hung on for a while with him on a pitch offering occasional low bounce.

Gubbins, however, was dropped on 22 when Azeem Rafiq leapt at point but failed to hold a square cut at Steven Patterson.

Eskinazi played on to Brooks for 12 and Simpson’s innings of 15 ended when he shouldered arms to an inswinger from Bresnan which pinned him palpably in front.

Earlier, Robson was leg-before for a duck in Brooks’ fourth over from the Nursery End, following an uncontested toss, beaten by a full ball angled into him. Compton was also lbw, for 8, offering no stroke to a ball from Brooks which nipped back up the Lord’s slope.

Malan greeted Willey’s introduction by hitting four fours and a two from the first seven balls he faced from the left-arm seamer, but perished when he aimed one expansive off drive too many. Willey, whose first over cost 15 runs, ended up with creditable figures of 1 for 25 from his initial six-over spell.

Yorkshire began the game nine points behind leaders Middlesex, with both counties wary of third-placed Somerset, who began this final round of games just a point behind Yorkshire and who must beat Nottinghamshire at Taunton if they are to finish as champions for the first time in their history.

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DAY ONE - LUNCH

MIDDLESEX 84-3

County championship leaders Middlesex ended a testing morning on 84 for 3 as Jack Brooks took 2 for 22 and champions Yorkshire, chasing a third successive title, enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges after opting to bowl first at Lord’s. 

Brooks sent back Sam Robson and Nick Compton in his new ball burst, before David Willey held his nerve against Dawid Malan to bowl the aggressive left-hander off an inside edge for 22. 

Opener Nick Gubbins, unlucky not to be selected for England’s winter Test tours after a prolific season in Division One of the Specsavers Championship, reached lunch on 42 not out as he tried to hold the Middlesex first innings together.

Gubbins, however, had been dropped on 22 when Azeem Rafiq leapt at point but failed to hold a square cut at Steven Patterson. Steve Eskinazi, with 7 not out from 32 balls, kept Gubbins company until the interval.

Robson was leg-before for a duck in Brooks’ fourth over from the Nursery End, following an uncontested toss, beaten by a full ball angled into him. Compton was also lbw, for 8, offering no stroke to a ball from Brooks which nipped back up the Lord’s slope.

Malan greeted Willey’s introduction by hitting four fours and a two from the first seven balls he faced from the left-arm seamer, but perished when he aimed one expansive off drive too many. Willey, whose first over cost 15 runs, ended up with creditable figures of 1 for 25 from his initial six-over spell.

Yorkshire, with one bowling bonus point already in the bag, narrowing Middlesex’s overall lead over them to eight points, used five seamers in the opening session of a match which could decide the destination of this year’s county title – though both counties will be wary of third-placed Somerset, who need to beat Nottinghamshire at Taunton if they are to finish as champions for the first time in their history.