Robson makes instant impression
Opener Sam Robson celebrated his first LV= County Championship outing of the season by batting through the day to score an unbeaten 136 as Middlesex reached 316 for six against Essex at Chelmsford.
The 21-year-old right-hander was brought into the side in the absence of Andrew Strauss, who is on England duty, and the out-of-form Scott Newman.
Robson showed his appreciation by once again underlining his liking for the Essex attack: his only other championship century came when the sides met at Lord's two years ago.
He has so far punctuated his innings with 14 fours and kept a cool head when Graham Napier was threatening to destroy the innings.
Fresh from his record-breaking 16 sixes in Essex’s last match against Surrey, the seamer showed he could also be a destructive force with the ball when he returned for a second spell with Middlesex 82 for one.
In the space of 13 deliveries he removed Dan Housego, Dawid Malan and Neil Dexter without conceding a run.
But then Robson, who had earlier shared an opening stand of 52 with Chris Rogers before the latter chopped on to give Ravi Bopara a wicket, found a reliable partner in Jamie Dalrymple.
They seized back the initiative with a partnership of 103 in 29 overs, which finally came to an end when Napier returned for another spell.
He found enough bounce and hostility to have Dalrymple caught in the slips by Matt Walker and end an entertaining 81-ball innings of 52 which contained seven fours and a six.
Any hopes Essex might have entertained of making further inroads were thwarted by another century partnership, this time John Simpson providing Robson with support.
The pair rarely suffered a moment of anxiety while putting on 122 in 36 overs and it needed the arrival of the second new ball to separate them.
Again it was the impressive Napier who made the breakthrough when he breached the defences of Simpson after he had made 65, with eight fours.
Napier finished the day with the magnificent figures of 5-43 from 20 overs, in complete contrast to 17-year-old Reece Topley, who finished wicketless after spending the early part of the morning sitting his Business Studies examination at Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, Suffolk.
The exam lasted two hours before he was picked up by his father at 10am and arrived at the ground only minutes before taking the new ball.
His 16 overs cost 80 runs, and he has good reason to feel that his exam was easier than removing the Middlesex batsmen.