Middlesex v Nottinghamshire at Lord’s – day three
Nottinghamshire 298 and 401-8 dec. Middlesex 181 and 57-1
Chris Read, the wicketkeeper-batsman England forgot, hit a merciless century off only 76 balls before rubbing in his Nottinghamshire side’s towering ascendancy over Middlesex by setting them to score 519 to win the opening match at Lord’s.
Nottinghamshire were already 446 runs ahead at tea on the third afternoon with their captain unbeaten on 48 when he cut loose with a ruthless assault against the toiling, tiring Middlesex attack.
He quickly completed his first fifty off 57 balls and then raced to his second fifty off 19 balls. In all he struck 14 fours and two sixes with Paul Stirling, the Ireland off spinner, taking the most punishment when Read struck him for 22 in one over.
It was a typically belligerent performance by the 36-year-old Read who played the last of his 15 Tests for England at Sydney in January 2007 but remains one of the most formidable competitors in county cricket with a first-class batting average a notch or two above that of Jos Buttler.
It was also the last thing Middlesex needed after they had made Nottinghamshire work for their runs when they resumed 218 ahead at 101 for two with Alex Hales, Samit Patel and James Taylor all looking to impress the England selectors.
Night watchman Will Gidman helped Hales put on 51 for the third wicket but no sooner had Gidman been caught at slip off the left arm spin of Adam Voges for 18 than Hales, who had curbed his attacking instincts to make 37 off 80 balls, was surprised by a lifter from Tim Murtagh which he could only glove to wicketkeeper John Simpson.
Patel and Taylor then added another 69 without being all that convincing. Patel made 33 but he had been dropped at second slip off Murtagh before he swept Voges to backward square and though Taylor got to 61 off 87 balls with nine fours he sometimes seemed to be trying too hard until he fell leg before to Stirling.
Riki Wessels had added a brisk 38 when he was leg before to the persevering Murtagh whereupon Read laid about him with Vernon Philander looking on admiringly from the other end.
Middlesex, who have already lost Dawid Malan with a broken hand, were almost on their knees but, to their credit, Nick Gubbins and Nick Compton shrugged off the loss of Sam Robson – leg before third ball to Jake Ball – to take them to 57 for one.