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White Rose enjoy dominant day

Alex Lees struck an unbeaten century in just his third LV= County Championship match as Yorkshire closed day one on 215 for two in their Division One clash with Middlesex at Lord’s. 

With rain stopping play four times and bad light bringing a further interruption, it was not easy for the batsmen to maintain their concentration.

But opener Lees showed he had a sound temperament as well as a solid technique by reaching his century in the penultimate over, ironically in dazzling sunshine.

He had batted for more than four and a half hours and faced 221 balls when he swept off-spinner Ollie Rayner nervelessly for his 11th four to complete a second first-class hundred.

Middlesex must have fancied their chances against a Yorkshire side missing England trio Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan as well as Gary Balance (virus), Jack Brooks (broken thumb) and Moin Ashraf (stiff back).

They did not mind bowling, either, after the White Rose won the toss in overcast conditions.

However, they were to be denied by Lees, who made 121 against Leeds/Bradford MCCU earlier in the season but had managed only 12 runs in his three previous championship innings.

A powerfully built, 6ft 3ins left-hander from Halifax, he withstood a thorough examination from Tim Murtagh and Corey Collymore with the new ball, applied himself diligently and received his due reward.

Yorkshire had lost Adam Lyth, taken low down at first slip off Murtagh, and Phil Jaques, caught behind off Gareth Berg.

Yet Lees got all the support he needed from Andrew Gale, his captain, in an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 145 in 53 overs.

Lees played and missed a few times early on and there were a couple of streaky fours through the slips, including the one off Neil Dexter that took him to his fifty.

Gale - fresh from his monumental 272, the 13th highest score in Yorkshire’s history, against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough last week - was a reassuring presence as he batted with great assurance to reach 61 off 165 balls with five fours.

That completed a chastening day for Middlesex, who began the game joint second with Yorkshire - only five points behind leaders Sussex.

They had further cause for concern when James Harris pulled up with a side strain in his fifth over; he stayed on the field, presumably so that he will be able to bowl straightaway if his condition improves overnight.

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