Red Rose wilt in heat
A rampaging sixth-wicket stand of 148 by Neil Dexter and Gareth Berg led a Middlesex recovery and left relegation-haunted Lancashire in deep trouble on the opening day of the LV= County Championship Division One clash at Lord’s.
Middlesex, put in to bat, recovered from an early wobble to reach stumps on 389 for six with Dexter unbeaten on 123.
Dexter and Berg came together at 164 for five but had taken the game far from last year’s champions by the time the latter fell for 83 with 70 minutes remaining.
In a sensational start, Lancashire skipper Glen Chapple did his best to justify his decision to field by claiming two wickets in his first nine balls to leave Middlesex four for two.
Lavish inswing saw Chapple remove opposite number Chris Rogers lbw for a duck and new batsman Joe Denly was soon caught behind. Dawid Malan then offered no shot to an inswinger from Ajmal Shahzad, who uprooted his off stump.
A counter-attack produced 63 for the fourth wicket in little more than an hour as Sam Robson moved fluently to 49. But Simon Kerrigan, introduced for the penultimate over of the morning, began with a wicket-maiden when he had Robson trapped lbw.
From 108 for four at lunch, Middlesex took the game away from their rivals through an afternoon in which only one more batsman fell under a blazing September sun.
The innings was in the balance following the departure of John Simpson, caught behind off Kyle Hogg for 29, but Dexter was joined by Berg to add 75 in the 23 overs to tea.
Having held their opponents to 164 for five, however, Lancashire would have to wait until an hour after tea before claiming a second bowling point.
Dexter, driving fluently through the covers and square off the back foot, reached a fifty in 109 balls; Berg followed from 81 deliveries in the evening’s first over.
Pulling at a Hogg long-hop, Berg was finally caught behind off a bottom edge in the over before Dexter reached his century off 193 balls.
Dexter then stayed at the crease as Steven Crook’s 45 dominated an unbeaten 77-run stand to the close.