Before getting down to the matter of the day, let’s resolve the BIG question immediately and confirm that the Danish pastries at Lord’s are the best anywhere!
Division 2 of the County Championship is often more neglected than Division 1 (which is not that well publicised itself) and it’s not hard to see why. To a degree the teams can be seen as the home of the hard-working county trundlers/batters just going through the daily grind of county cricket and perhaps only sparkling when the one day or 20/20 smash and grab raids come along.
That was the feeling I got from the first session of Middlesex v Leicestershire at Lord’s – from the latter especially. That may be due to their lack of recent success and being anchored in the lower divisions for several seasons as they have been; whereas Middlesex have been on a downward trend for a few seasons but have started this season well.
Shah Afridi looks like a inspired signing for Middlesex and on his first appearance at Lords blew the top order away in no time at all – at one point being on a hat-trick. Leicestershire never really got going whilst the Middle’s bowlers exploited the overcast conditions to maximum effect – seaming and swinging as if there’s no tomorrow to leave Leicestershire 63/6 at lunch. Ok, we haven’t seen Middlesex bat yet to be able to form a proper judgment but when a pitch looks beige you don’t expect it to favour the quicks but this one does…at the moment!
As the afternoon wore on and the sun started to shine (weakly at best), Leicestershire succumbed to 110/9 and ‘it’s all over bar the shouting’ but no! Parkinson (brother of the Lancashire one) and Hendrix (Beuran Eric, SA and with one test cap) decided it wasn’t time for fat lady songs!
Clearly with less cloud cover the ball wasn’t doing anything like what it did before lunch and they managed to drag Leicestershire to 149ao on what was just after the timed tea interval.
Middlesex started very slowly as the clouds reappeared but once Stoneman had seen off the shine, he went off like an express train! Robson (seems to be another fidgeter, but only occasionally and then nowhere near the Smith/Burns/Lammonby class!) went for a slowish 16. By the end of the day, Middlesex were just 7 runs behind with Stoneman on 80 heading for a century.
The gulf between the sides at this stage appears wide but with a bit of cloud cover tomorrow, who knows when or if the fat lady will sing again?