Test hopeful Nick Gubbins fell just one run short of a second successive century in a new round of Specsavers County Championship matches.
On a day when Ollie Pope hit the only hundred in nine fixtures, for Surrey against Yorkshire at The Oval, Middlesex opener Gubbins consolidated his fine form after a hamstring injury delayed his start to the season.
The uncapped left-hander hit 18 fours from 138 balls before going caught behind to Gloucestershire seamer Dan Worrall in a total of 356 for six in the Division Two match at Lord’s – a timely innings as new national selector Ed Smith prepares to announces his first Test squad next Tuesday.
CLOSE OF PLAY REPORT— Middlesex Cricket (@Middlesex_CCC) May 11, 2018
A good day at the office for Middlesex, who close on 356/6 💪@ngubbins18, @dmalan29 and @Eoin16 all passed half centuries today! 👏🏏
Full report here 👇https://t.co/6B8vneTvJU pic.twitter.com/8MeBiywBzF
Middlesex were also well-served by twin contributions of 76 from Dawid Malan and England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, returning to first-class cricket for the first time in almost three years.
Across the Thames, there was no reassurance for Mark Stoneman – current incumbent ahead of Gubbins as Alastair Cook’s England opening partner.
After he fell cheaply, Pope (131no) took over on the way to 366 for seven.
The 20-year-old hit his third first-class century in only his 10th match, sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 129 with veteran Rikki Clarke (71) to defy Yorkshire – being led by England captain Joe Root in the absence of poorly Gary Ballance.
Division One leaders Nottinghamshire had a tough time at Trent Bridge, where Lancashire’s Graham Onions took the first three wickets in a total of 133 all out.
The Red Rose were already in front on 157 for four by the close, Alex Davies leading the way with 50 off just 40 balls and his fellow opener and England aspirant Keaton Jennings finishing unbeaten on a painstaking 52.
Essex continued their early-season struggles when young seamers Josh Tongue (four for 45) and Ed Barnard shared seven wickets as promoted Worcestershire bowled the champions out for 177 at New Road.
The hosts then replied with 47 for none.
On a rain-shortened day at Taunton, Somerset captain Tom Abell again enhanced his growing reputation as an all-rounder with figures of three for 18 in Hampshire’s 198 for eight.
"I am working on my bowling all the time"— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) May 11, 2018
We caught up with Tom Abell after day one of #SOMvHAM as he chats about his impressive bowling form and the state of play heading into tomorrow#WeAreSomerset pic.twitter.com/oVHD1B4kH3
Back down in Division Two, Northamptonshire were much indebted to Steven Crook’s counter-attacking 92 from number eight as they recovered from 52 for six to 256 all out against table-toppers Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Crook and New Zealander Doug Bracewell (81) doubled the total in a century stand for the eighth wicket, despite teenage seamer Henry Brookes’ career-best four for 54.
Warwickshire then reached 100 for four, with Ian Bell unbeaten on 55.
STUMPS: Play is abandoned for the day due to bad light.— Warwickshire CCC 🏏 (@WarwickshireCCC) May 11, 2018
Warwickshire close on 100/4 (Bell 55* Lamb 1*) off 29 overs, trailing by 156.
Wayne Madsen (80no) top-scored in Derbyshire’s promising 301 for four at home to Durham.
At Grace Road, Neil Dexter (87) bailed out Leicestershire as they battled back from 67 for six to 191 all out against Glamorgan – who nonetheless closed in control on 82 for none.
South African all-rounder David Wiese (four for 54) was in credit as Sussex bowled Kent out for 215 in a hectic start to the derby at Canterbury – despite a hard-working 60 from his compatriot Heino Kuhn.
The visitors then struggled to 69 for four at stumps as the prolific Matt Henry took three for 24.