Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 April 2019
James Anderson took his first County Championship wickets at Lord’s for 16 years on the opening day of Lancashire’s clash with Middlesex.
The England paceman was still a fortnight shy of his Test debut against Zimbabwe in May 2003, the last time he came through the Grace Gates to represent the Red Rose county in the 4-day format.
Among the then 20-year-old’s victims that day was a certain Andrew Strauss – a hint we were soon to be in the presence of greatness.
Some 575 Test scalps later, Anderson was back at the Home of Cricket, donning his county cap and kick-starting his Ashes year with all the craft and artistry garnered in the meanwhile, en route to figures of 3-41.
And his efforts saw the visitors take the first day honours, reducing the hosts to 236-9, but while the Burnley Express was in the spotlight, others deserve honourable mentions.
For Middlesex, who got the thin end of a draw with Northants in the first set of fixtures last week there were plusses. Stevie Eskinazi and Nick Gubbins both struck dogged half-centuries, displaying a stickability sadly lacking in the Seaxes’ first innings at Wantage Road. Sadly though, once they were gone an all-too familiar first innings collapse ensued with Tom Bailey (4-51) also among the wickets for the Division Two favourites.
Anderson was the first to put his mark on the game after Dane Vilas exercised his right to bowl first.
The Lancashire skipper’s faith in his strike bowler was soon rewarded when Anderson found the edge of Sam Robson’s bat and Glenn Maxwell did the rest at second slip.
There could have been more reward for the 36-year-old in a first spell full of craft and devilry. Gubbins survived a huge LBW shout while both he and Eskinazi played and missed numerous times.
Both however dug in, Gubbins hitting some trademark cover drives, one of them off Anderson a great response to his earlier working over.
Eskinazi too was pugnacious, picking up several boundaries in shifting the early momentum towards the hosts, though he survived a scare on 32 when Maxwell failed to cling on to another edge, this time from the bowling of Graham Onions.
Gubbins was first to reach 50 from 104 balls courtesy of his eighth four, Eskinazi following shortly afterwards from just two balls more.
The pair raised the century stand and by mid-afternoon Middlesex were sitting pretty at 126-1.
However, that was Bailey’s cue to turn the tide once more, first trapping Gubbins LBW with one which swung in from around the wicket.
Lady luck then shone on the Lancashire seamer as Eskinazi (75) got a tickle to one fired down the leg-side and young Brooke Guest, deputising for Alex Davies, injured in the morning session, took a sprawling catch behind the stumps.
Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan, fresh from making 160 last week, picked up in similar vein with four early boundaries, only for Anderson to return and have him taken at slip by Keaton Jennings for 24.
Malan’s dismissal sparked a cluster of wickets, England one-day skipper Eoin Morgan slashing a wide one from Josh Bohannon to Rob Jones in the gully, while Maxwell got due reward for some frugal off-breaks when John Simpson dragged one on.
Max Holden (34) had played nicely, but Anderson returned with the new ball to induce another edge and Bailey despatched both James Harris and Steven Finn before the close.
Haseeb Hameed struck a century on day two at Lord's as Lancashire moved into a first innings lead against Middlesex in the Specsavers County Championship.
The Bolton-born batsman was only opened the Lancashire innings because Alex Davies had injured his thumb while keeping wicket on the first day, but he made the most of the opportunity with a virtually chanceless knock of 117 from 196 balls.
A first-wicket century stand with Keaton Jennings was the platform for the visitors to take control of the game and they ended the day on 267-4 – a lead of two runs.
Lancashire seamer Tom Bailey (5-67) began the day by completing a five-wicket haul as the home side were bowled out for 265 after the last pair of Murtagh (16*) and Toby Roland-Jones (35) had added 29 to earn a second batting bonus point.
Although Murtagh bowled a consistent line when Lancashire began their reply, the rest of the Middlesex seamers were unable to gain control as Hameed and Jennings progressed to 88-0 at lunch.
Apart from a difficult caught and bowled opportunity that Steven Finn was unable to cling on to, Hameed offered no chances – but he and Jennings became bogged down as the scoring rate slowed significantly during the afternoon.
Jennings took 133 balls over his innings of 52 before he became the first to depart at 123-1, chasing an outswinger from James Harris and nicking it behind.
With Davies unlikely to bat, Lancashire sent Brooke Guest in at three and he made a shaky start with a series of edges that fell just short or wide of the slip cordon.
Guest survived to make 17, but he was to be the first of two victims in quick succession for Murtagh (2-23), missing a delivery that came back and took his leg stump.
Lancashire’s progress appeared to have been checked when Glenn Maxwell (1) followed, playing on to Murtagh in his next over to leave them 152-3.
However, Rob Jones (55*) kept Hameed company after tea while he advanced to his ton, reaching that landmark in style by hooking Roland-Jones into the grandstand for six.
It was Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan who eventually ended Hameed’s innings, diving to take a smart return catch off his own bowling.
But Jones went on to pass his half-century and he and captain Dane Vilas (19*) had added 36 by the time bad light ended play.
Rob Jones' century kept Lancashire in command of their Specsavers County Championship clash at Lord’s against Middlesex going into the final day tomorrow (Sunday).
Jones’ 122 was his highest score in Championship cricket and only his second hundred in the competition – having also recorded his first against Middlesex, at Emirates Old Trafford in September 2016.
He shared a fifth-wicket stand of 143 with Lancashire captain Dane Vilas (68) as the visitors crafted a healthy first-innings lead of 162, with Tim Murtagh (5-69) collecting his second five-wicket haul in as many games.
Middlesex made steady progress towards wiping out that deficit, but they lost the wickets of Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi to close on 68-2, still 94 runs behind.
Lancashire’s hopes of building quickly on their overnight position of 267-4 were thwarted by three separate rain interruptions, which meant they only received 13 overs in a truncated morning session.
Nevertheless, Jones and Vilas stretched their side’s advantage on a pitch that gave virtually no assistance to the bowlers, with Toby Roland-Jones particularly unfortunate to finish wicketless.
Roland-Jones found some rhythm during the afternoon session and almost removed Vilas with an inside edge that missed the stumps, while another edge off Steven Finn flew just wide of slip.
Jones, meanwhile, took a knock on the helmet when he misjudged a short ball from James Harris, but he got up to hook the same bowler for successive boundaries and then reached his century by cutting Finn for another four.
Just as he had done earlier in the innings – taking a return catch to dismiss second-day centurion Haseeb Hameed – it was Middlesex captain Dawid Malan (3-60) who eventually achieved the breakthrough.
Malan’s leg-spin pinned Vilas leg before, and he followed that up with another wicket at the start of the evening session as Josh Bohannon (5) was snapped up by Sam Robson, leaping to his right at slip.
Murtagh then clipped the off stump of Tom Bailey (1) and finally won an lbw decision to bring Jones’ five hours-plus occupation of the crease to an end.
Alex Davies, batting down the order after injuring his thumb on the first day, contributed a useful 17 before he became Murtagh’s fifth victim, top-edging an attempted pull to give John Simpson an easy catch.
Harris (2-105) rounded off the innings by bowling Graham Onions (12), but not before the Red Rose county had extended their lead to 162.
That left Middlesex to negotiate 22 overs before the close – but Gubbins lasted just five balls, departing for a duck as James Anderson found his outside edge and Glenn Maxwell pouched the catch at second slip.
Despite another scare – when Sam Robson (41*) just managed to scramble back to the non-striker’s end after calling for a very optimistic single – he and Eskinazi (25) looked fairly comfortable as they put on 68 for the second wicket.
But Eskinazi fell lbw to Onions in the penultimate over to keep Middlesex under pressure heading into day four.