Topley to the fore at Lord's
Youngster Reece Topley claimed a five-wicket haul for the second match in succession as Middlesex were dismissed for 277 on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Essex at Lord's.
The 17-year-old left-armer, who picked up 5-46 in the second innings of his side’s opening match against Kent last week, once again impressed with figures of 5-64 on a cold, overcast day that just about favoured swing bowling.
Although almost every Middlesex batsman got off to a start, Scott Newman’s 38 proved to be the highest score of their innings. Essex openers Alastair Cook and Billy Godleman then survived 11 deliveries without scoring before bad light caused an early finish.
There was no sign of superiority of ball over bat in the opening hour as Middlesex’s new opening partnership of Chris Rogers and Newman showed their experience by rotating the strike and latching onto anything loose.
Having been invited to bat first, the hosts had 50 on the board inside 17 overs and with little or no alarm until the introduction of Topley at the Pavilion End.
The 6ft 7in seamer made the breakthrough in his fifth over by having Rogers caught on the drive at gully by Tom Westley after finding a thick edge with an outswinger.
In his next over, Topley pushed one across left-handed Newman, who prodded forward and provided wicketkeeper James Foster with a low catch to make it 110 for two at lunch.
The wheels fell off the Middlesex bandwagon after the interval as they lost three wickets in eight balls with the score on 115.
Former Kent seamer David Masters started the slide with two wickets in the space of four balls; bowling Dawid Malan for 29 with one that cut back in to the left-hander and snaring Neil Dexter for a second-ball duck as the home skipper was caught leaden-footed on the crease.
In the next over Topley collected his third victim of the innings, Dan Housego’s attractive cameo of 20 coming to a profligate end when he chipped a simple catch to midwicket.
Sixth-wicket partners Gareth Berg and John Simpson rebuilt with a stand worth 66 in 22.5 overs before Chris Wright caused further home consternation.
The right-armer shaped one back to trap Simpson leg before for 32 then, three balls later, Wright jagged another off the seam to defeat Berg’s back-foot defensive shot and trim off stump for 34.
Tim Murtagh became the third lbw victim when he played across one that appeared to keep low from Ravi Bopara, leaving Topley to polish the job.
England paceman Steven Finn was bowled after helping himself to a brisk first-class best of 32, while Corey Collymore followed in similar fashion without scoring.