Hales and Lumb punish Middlesex
Alex Hales struck his highest score of the LV= County Championship season so far to put Nottinghamshire in control against Middlesex.
Although play started on time, just 42 overs were possible at Trent Bridge on the opening day before rain curtailed the action at 2.30pm with the hosts 132 for one.
There was enough time for Hales to stamp his authority on proceedings with an unbeaten 71 and put on an unbroken stand of 132 in 41 overs together with Michael Lumb, who made 51 not out, after Nottinghamshire had won the toss and opted to bat.
England paceman Steven Finn started well by bowling Neil Edwards for a duck from the very first ball of his 15 overs, but he and his team-mates toiled from then on without success.
It was a day of relative inactivity for England captain Andrew Strauss in the field, while international team-mates Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad were not required to take to the turf.
Second-placed Nottinghamshire went into the match looking to take advantage of Warwickshire having no game in this round of fixtures by going top of Division One.
They were forced into changes as Riki Wessels and Steven Mullaney came in for James Taylor and Samit Patel, who are in the England Lions squad to face West Indies from tomorrow at Wantage Road.
Edwards’ largely poor early-season form continued when he played Finn’s loosener back on to his leg stump to go in the second over.
Hales made an inauspicious start as he got off the mark by carving Tim Murtagh over the slips and Lumb was less than convincing early on as his first scoring shot was a drive that flashed just wide of gully.
But the pair gradually adapted to the swing and seam movement, posting the fifty stand in the 15th over and taking their partnership into three figures in the penultimate set of six before lunch.
Both batsmen played with increasing fluency; Hales demonstrated his trademark timing through the off side in hitting 13 boundaries in his 119-ball knock.
Lumb punished anything wide by driving strongly through the covers and was equally adept when the Middlesex attack – shorn of Corey Collymore and Toby-Roland Jones – erred on to his pads.
By the early close, the pair needed to add just three more runs to record Nottinghamshire’s highest stand of the season.