DAY ONE - CLOSE OF PLAY
Half-centuries from Middlesex’s top three engineered a commanding position for the Championship leaders against Lancashire at Old Trafford. Having been surprisingly invited to bat first by Lancashire captain Steven Croft, they reached 258 for three, increasing their lead over Yorkshire from one to three points.
Under low clouds, Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins negotiated an impressive opening spell from Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis, but having played themselves in (both survived big lbw shouts from Jarvis), boundaries began to flow for both batsmen. Gubbins left well but also drove beautifully through the covers and down the ground and was severe whenever Lancashire strayed onto his pads. Shortly before Middlesex reached lunch 93 without loss, he reached an 89-ball half-century.
After a brief delay for a bad light after the break, Gubbins was the first man to fall, as he attempted to pull a short delivery from Jarvis, but - catching the ball high on the bat - could only lob up to midwicket, where Alviro Petersen took a simple catch. Gubbins had made 69, and an opening stand of 123 had finally been broken.
After the departure of Gubbins, Robson played with greater authority, reaching his half-century from 111 balls, and twice pulling Simon Kerrigan to the midwicket fence. All day he had driven well and flicked through midwicket sweetly, but he too fell when looking settled, an edged drive finding first slip off Kerrigan for 77. On 57, a full stretch Jos Buttler had been unable to hold on to a legside flick that eventually found the fence at fine leg.
Nick Compton and Dawid Malan picked up where Middlesex’s openers left off, sharing 97 either side of tea. Compton powerfully pulled his first ball through square-leg for four, but was becalmed thereafter, facing 29 consecutive dot balls. He grew into his innings, picking off Kerrigan with ease - including various flicks through midwicket as well as a swat down the ground for six.
Malan began his innings in fine style, cutting in front and behind square and driving through mid-on, but as conditions became trickier and the light murkier late in the day, he went into his shell, particularly against the new ball.
It was the new ball, and Jarvis, that did for Compton, bowled through the gate for 56 by one that nipped back. Malan, however, was joined by the watchful Stevie Eskinazi to shepherd the leaders to a second batting point and through to the close, which came seven overs early due to bad light. Malan finished the day unbeaten on 49.
While Middlesex named an unchanged team, Lancashire welcomed back Buttler to the Championship side for the first time since these two sides met in September 2014. At lunch, much to his surprise, the opener Haseeb Hameed became the youngest Lancashire player to be awarded his county cap since World War 2, when records began.
After a wicketless morning session, Lancashire dismissed Middlesex’s openers after lunch on the first day as the table-toppers moved to 204 for two at tea.
Nick Gubbins had played beautifully for his 69, driving elegantly and defending stoutly, but fell to Kyle Jarvis - caught at midwicket, pulling - to end an enterprising opening stand of 127.
After Gubbins fell, Sam Robson played with authority, reaching his half-century from 111 balls, and twice pulling Simon Kerrigan to the midwicket fence. But he too fell when looking settled, an edged drive finding Liam Livingstone at first slip off Kerrigan.
Nick Compton dispatched his first ball through square leg for four but then faced 29 deliveries without scoring. He and Dawid Malan - who cut powerfully - then shared 53 to see out the session and bring up Middlesex’s first batting point.
DAY ONE - LUNCH
The Middlesex openers, Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins, made it to lunch unscathed on 93-0 having been invited to bat first by the Lancashire captain Steven Croft at Old Trafford.
The pair survived testing opening spells from Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis, and scored just five from the opening seven overs, with both surviving lbw shouts from the latter. But, as Croft rotated his bowlers, Robson and Gubbins settled and the boundaries began to flow, with Gubbins - who scored 201* in the reverse fixture at Lord’s - particularly strong through the covers.
He reached his half-century from 89 balls shortly before lunch, having found the fence eight times.
While Middlesex, who lead the Championship by a point from Yorkshire, named an unchanged team, Lancashire welcomed back Jos Buttler to the Championship side for the first time since these two sides met in September 2014. Buttler replaced Jordan Clark in the XI and is keeping wicket.
At lunch, the opener Haseeb Hameed will become the youngest Lancashire player to be awarded his county cap since World War 2, when records began.