Middlesex v Essex
Specsavers County Championship Division One - Day one
Brian Jeeves reporting from Lord’s
Middlesex 255/1 (67.2 overs)
(Toss uncontested, Essex to field)
CENTURIES from Middlesex openers, Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins, left Essex struggling on day one of their Specsavers County Championship Division One encounter with old adversaries, Middlesex, at Lord’s.
Following a steady start to life in the top division, Essex were given an opportunity to distinguish just how far they had come against the reigning County Champions.
Amidst overcast conditions at the home of cricket, the Essex attack were handed the ball following an uncontested toss. However, England hopefuls Robson and Gubbins made a steady start, putting on 105 before lunch, with Robson passing his half-century as the visitor’s bowlers failed to make any real headway.
Left-hander Gubbins followed suit once play resumed, reaching his milestone off 110 balls as Middlesex continued to pile on the runs at a rate of more than four an over. Meanwhile, Robson revived the accolades from the crowd of around 2,500, hitting an impressive century off just 140 deliveries.
The Middlesex pair continued to torment Essex. Gubbins passed three figures, nicking a quick single off the bowling of Aaron Beard. However, Beard eventually made the breakthrough, removing Gubbins via the gloves of wicketkeeper Adam Wheater the final delivery before tea.
The Essex figures made fairly grim reading, with Neil Wagner and Jamie Porter the pick of the bowlers with an economy rate of 2.75 and 3.31 respectively. The home side’s progress was thwarted when play was suspended due to bad light. Nevertheless, at stumps, Middlesex found themselves in a strong position on 255/1.
Speaking at the close of play, Middlesex centurion, Nick Gubbins, said: “The pitch was one of those strange ones. When you come here, as an opening batsman you are expecting sides to bat first 90 percent of the time, so you are always mentally attuned to the prospect of batting first although today we would also have probably opted to bowl first if there had been a toss. There was quite a bit of grass on the pitch and, despite the scoreboard, there is something in it for the bowlers.
“I think Sam and I got off to a good start and that got rid of some of the slips quite early on. From there, any little nicks we got seemed to hit the gaps and it was one of those days.
“Sam batted brilliantly and it was nice to get a big partnership going and to bat with him again for a long period. For me, it is all about facing as many balls as possible, because if I am doing that we are getting good starts. It’s obviously very pleasing to get an early hundred and get the reward for a lot of hard work in the winter and pre-season.
“We think that our bowlers will get something out of the conditions, when it’s our turn to bowl, and especially because they know this pitch so well.”
Meanwhile, Essex head coach, Chris Silverwood, said: “We all thought that it would be a good day to bowl, with a green pitch, a bit of grass, and also the overhead conditions. But there wasn’t very much swing at all and you have to give credit to Sam Robson, who batted brilliantly and also to Nick Gubbins for another great knock. Every day is going to be a tough challenge for us in Division One, but we are learning all the time and today was another very good learning curve for us.”
Middlesex 2 pts Essex 0 pts
Play resumes on Saturday at 11am