DAY THREE - CLOSE OF PLAY 

MIDDLESEX 327 & 72-4

LANCASHIRE 259

The 20-year-old Lancashire opener carried his bat for a magnificent maiden first-class century, before Simon Kerrigan took three wickets for 16 to hamper Middlesex’s title aspirations at Old Trafford.

Middlesex reached stumps on the third day 72 for four, 140 ahead. Jones, playing just his third Championship match and resuming on 42, became the youngest Lancashire batsman since Cyril Washbrook in 1935 (against Worcestershire at Old Trafford) to carry his bat through a Championship innings. He brought up his century from his 276th ball, with his second six off Ollie Rayner, but the hallmarks of his innings were sound defence and the ability to leave plenty. Jones’ stand with Liam Livingstone, so vital on Tuesday evening swelled to 106, before Livingstone became the first of Steven Finn’s four wickets, guiding to second slip, the ball after the same stroke had brought up a fine 117-ball half-century.

Jones, who drove beautifully, was joined by Tom Bailey and the pair knuckled down to avert any threat of the follow-on, then earn a first unlikely batting point, and eventually see off the new ball. Bailey had pulled the ball impressively, but drove hard at Finn and was caught at first slip, while Kyle Jarvis could only divert his first ball, a lifting snorter, straight to gully. Kerrigan received a reprieve when Finn bowled him with a no ball. However, after Jones had brought up his century, Kerrigan was trapped lbw and Toby Lester was bowled by Rayner to bring an end to Lancashire’s first innings, 68 behind.Jones had earned Lancashire two batting points, and orchestrated a remarkable turnaround.

The bowlers picked up where he left off. Nick Gubbins prodded forward to a ball from Kyle Jarvis that left him and was caught by Livingstone at first slip, although Sam Robson looked in good touch immediately with a series of cuts and pulls. The introduction of Kerrigan proved vital, however, as he dismissed Robson for the second time in the match, lbw trying to pull the first ball of his spell.

Nick Compton and Stevie Eskinazi both also fell lbw to become Kerrigan’s sixth and seventh victims, the former playing back and the latter forward. The left-handers David Malan and John Simpson came together for a trial by spin, digging in with men round the bat, the ball turning and runs never readily available, to guide Middlesex to a lead of 140 at stumps, despite a huge appeal for lbw against Simpson with the last ball of the day, bowled by Livingstone.

A win would take Middlesex 20 points clear of Yorkshire, who are one ahead of Somerset, going into the final round of fixtures, when first plays second at Lord’s. A draw would see Middlesex top by nine, and should they lose, their advantage would be just four points. 

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TEA

LANCASHIRE 259 a/o
MIDDLESEX 327 a/o

Middlesex lead by 68 runs

The 20-year-old Lancashire opener Rob Jones carried his bat for a magnificent maiden first-class century to hamper Middlesex’s title push at Old Trafford. 

When Toby Lester was bowled by Ollie Rayner to dismiss Lancashire for 259, trailing by 68, Jones - playing just his third first-class match - became the youngest Lancashire batsman since Cyril Washbrook in 1935 (against Worcestershire at Old Trafford) to carry his bat.

Jones, who faced the first ball of the innings and watched from the other end as Lancashire fell to 6-4, reached his century (which was followed by a raucous celebration) with his second six over long-on off Ollie Rayner. It was his 276th ball, and among his ten fours were a series of attractive straight drives off the seamers.

Jones shared 92 with Tom Bailey, who made his maiden first-class half-century, pulling well before edging Steven Finn to slip. Finn struck next ball too, as Kyle Jarvis fended a snorter to gully, and soon after Simon Kerrigan was trapped lbw to secure Middlesex’s third batting point. Lancashire picked up two batting points of their own. 

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LUNCH

LANCASHIRE 168 - 6
MIDDLESEX 327 a/o

Led by the 20-year-old opener Rob Jones, Lancashire continued to fight back against Middlesex at Old Trafford, losing just one wicket on the morning of the third day.  

After a frantic, rain-interrupted second day saw 12 wickets fall - including Lancashire sitting 6-4 - all was rather calmer on the third morning. Playing his third first-class match, Jones soon completed a maiden half-century, by hitting Ollie Rayner wide of mid-on for his eighth four, from his 151st ball. 

Liam Livingstone, with whom Jones shared 106, having come together at 32 for five, also made a half-century, late cutting Steven Finn for four to reach the milestone from his 117th ball. He attempted the same stroke from his 118th, but was caught brilliantly by the diving Rayner at second slip.

Joined by Tom Bailey, Jones grew into his innings. The solid defence remained, but he continually hit Rayner down the ground and on-drove beautifully. Jones took lunch on 71 (from 215 balls) with Lancashire 168-6, 159 in arrears.