Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife…Middlesex v Sussex Day 1.

Photo from BBC London – I’m the one in a pink jacket and purple trousers!

Whilst the one day circus rolled back into London for SA v Bangladesh, the first class County season continues with a match brought forward a day following the outcry of the madding crowd of county members when the fixture list originally had this game to be played when working people couldn’t watch it!

Perhaps Middlesex will regret asking for that change since after winning the toss they celebrate lunch (full Sunday roast plus Yorkies for £12.95 in the Pavilion) at 77/5 having won the toss and batted. Sussex came out with all guns blazing, Middlesex less so and with few knowing where the middle of the bat was.

Humid sunny conditions aided the bowling in terms of movement but it’s a pitch where patience and resilience are needed with time spent waiting for the sun to dry what looks like a good batting surface.

Playing and missing seemed to be the order of the day for Middlesex and as regular as the buses going down Wellington Road but interspersed with the occasional sound of bat on ball but more likely a soft nick to the keeper and Sussex exclamation of joy; the bowling was quite superb!

A surprise and from the Middlesex perspective probably the highlight of the day was the opening of the outfield to spectators at lunch. This is a rare event at Lords especially so early in the season before any big matches.

However many times you do this, it just adds to the magic of the place…walking down the steps where the famous and not so famous have tread, walking to the middle, the view of the majestic Pavilion, the close up view of the media centre but most of all the slope! You just don’t appreciate it from afar or on TV…it’s something to behold!

Lunch turns into 138 all out by mid afternoon and an abject performance by Middlesex especially after winning the toss and batting but let’s see how it goes?

Sussex reach a belated tea interval at 78/1 off 18 overs. They make batting look simple and straightforward. The bowling by Middlesex is too full, too wayward, too off line…just too awful for words with the exception of Tim Murtagh. Salt progresses well and is on course for a 50 if not a lot more.

Interestingly, the weather has changed as if it’s a different day; more cloud cover (this morning was blue sky from edge to edge), the wind has progressed from a cooling zephyr to a vibrant breeze and the temperature dropped several degrees.

And so it seems we’ve two vastly different innings. Sussex end the day at 169/4 with the power to add to what should be a substantial lead but there’s more strife to be seen in this match I’m sure and less of a madding crowd tomorrow.

Apologies for the lack of photos but other than the range of callisthenics on display – primarily from Sussex – for bowlers warm ups – there was little else of note; even for a very subdued and understated ladies day (perhaps the message about how this doesn’t sit well with modern ways, is getting through!) but tomorrow’s another day, another innings, more strain and strife.

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