Latest Match Report – Middlesex vs Somerset Group 2 2021
Opening the batting on the primary morning on the County Championship season is a mug’s recreation. In gloomy April circumstances, somebody is assured the ignominy of being the primary man out of the summer time; striding out to bat sporting three layers in his first Lord’s innings for 18 months, Sam Robson will need to have feared that he could be the unlucky sufferer.
With 4 slips primed and prepared, Craig Overton bowled full, aiming to nip an inswinger by means of Robson’s defence, however he threaded the ball by means of the vacant mid-off area for 4 with a compact drive. It was sufficient to settle any early-season nerves, and Robson was quickly in his groove, clipping mercilessly by means of midwicket every time Somerset’s seamers strayed onto his pads.
He rode his luck at occasions. There isn’t a good time to drop a catch within the slips, however there have been few worse than this: with Robson on 23, James Hildreth put down a simple probability at first slip off Josh Davey; on 47, Lewis Gregory drew an out of doors edge, just for Overton to shell the chance. The bitter North London chill made this a sore day for fielders’ fingers – not least when Robson was within the temper to make them pay for his or her generosity.
Notably robust by means of the leg aspect, Robson waited patiently for half-volleys and quick balls as Somerset’s seamers tried to search out their early-season rhythm. He was comfortable to take a seat in and defend in opposition to Jack Leach, who received by means of 22 overs at an economic system price beneath two, however pulled, reduce, whipped and drove fluently in opposition to the quicks.
By mid-afternoon, he had grow to be the primary centurion of the Championship season, and his innings single-handedly dragged Middlesex to a aggressive first-day rating: he scored greater than half of their runs – citing 10,000 first-class profession runs within the course of – and the second-highest particular person complete was Stevie Eskinazi’s 22. Jason Kerr, Somerset’s coach, mentioned that it was “even stevens” on the shut however after asking Middlesex to bowl first and cloud cowl for many of the day, they may see this as a chance missed.
For Robson, this innings served as a reminder of his expertise, and specifically, his capacity to money in after making a begin. The Bob Willis Trophy final summer time was the primary time since 2012 that he had did not make a single hundred in a first-class season, however at 31, there isn’t a motive why a robust run of scores within the first two months of this marketing campaign shouldn’t put him again into England competition, practically seven years after his final Check look.
His personal fortunes have mirrored the membership’s in latest seasons, along with his returns dipping considerably within the years since a wonderful 2016. He began that marketing campaign in comparable vogue, ending the primary day of the season unbeaten on 175; he couldn’t repeat the feat this time, fending a catch to 3rd slip in opposition to the second new ball, however will hope this innings augurs properly for the months forward.
“I really feel like my greatest years are forward of me,” Robson mentioned. “Final yr was a humorous yr, not having a lot cricket, however I felt fairly good about my recreation in 2019 and I am at an age now the place hopefully I can put all of it along with my expertise, and hold the starvation for runs. I would like to play for England once more – so long as I am taking part in first-class cricket, that’ll be one in every of my targets – however there’s plenty of work to be accomplished.
“You are at all times nervous in a humorous means – possibly a bit of bit extra nervous this morning than standard, with every thing that is occurred up to now yr. That is the primary time we have been at Lord’s [for a first-class match] for 18 months, and April cricket is at all times that form of pleasure with the primary recreation of the yr. As you grow old, you recognize the vagaries of the sport and simply flip up and do your greatest – fortunately immediately issues went my means.”
A lot as Somerset have been left to rue their early profligacy within the slips, they fought they have been again into the sport admirably beneath the floodlights within the night session. Middlesex had misplaced semi-regular wickets, hardly ever stringing collectively any significantly dominant partnerships, and Gregory struck thrice with the second new ball to show 254 for five into 281 for 8. Having spent three weeks in quarantine final month after contracting Covid-19 on the Pakistan Tremendous League, Gregory’s pre-season preparations have been removed from best, however his management of line and size was usually spectacular.
Leach toiled away admirably, selecting up the wicket of Robbie White – one in every of two taken by spinners throughout the nation on the primary day of the season – and managing to carry an finish down all through the afternoon session. Marchant de Lange, making his Somerset debut, leaked early runs – “attempting too arduous to make an impression,” Kerr prompt – however dragged issues again, whereas Overton and Davey have been each responsible of straying into Robson’s robust zones extra usually than they might have preferred. As a lot as something, Somerset’s first ambition this week is to get out of the crimson, having began the season on minus eight factors following the ECB’s adjustment to their pitch penalty.
Each side had difficult choice dilemmas: Eddie Byrom was the batsman to overlook out for Somerset, having made 117 on this floor within the Bob Willis Trophy last final September, whereas Middlesex disregarded James Harris and Steven Finn, whereas opting to not decide a specialist spinner. With the climate set to intervene, neither name is prone to be essential, however Middlesex’s efforts with the ball on day two might outline this recreation.
Matt Curler is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98