sport

Middlesex claim upper hand

Five Toby Roland-Jones wickets earned Middlesex the upper hand on day one of their County Championship Division One match at Northamptonshire.

The contest lay firmly in the balance going into the evening session at the County Ground with Northamptonshire having reached 183 for three at tea.

A middle-order collapse, however, saw the home side give away four wickets for just 66 runs and Middlesex were certainly the happier side with the score 251 for eight at the close of play.

Roland-Jones led the charge for the visitors, claiming five wickets for 49 runs which included six maidens and the morale-boosting dismissal of Andrew Hall in the final three overs.

Northamptonshire won the toss and after opting to bat first made a steady start before James Middlebrook (20) was clean bowled by Roland-Jones in the 19th over.

Fellow opener Stephen Peters was more difficult to dislodge and he sealed his third half-century of the season before being caught at deep mid-wicket by Ravi Patel for 67.

With the score 114 for two, David Sales took the mantle and looked comfortable at the crease alongside number four Matthew Spriegel.

Sales fell seven runs short of his fifty, however, as he was caught by Chris Rogers off the bowling of Tim Murtagh (one for 56).

Spriegel and Rob Newton added another 41 runs to the tally but at 183 for four, Northamptonshire's collapse began.

First to go was Spriegel (19) whose attempted cut was caught by John Simpson off Patel (two for 36) and eight balls later, Newton was on his way too after he was caught by Ollie Rayner for 31.

Middlesex were enjoying the momentum and the visitors were soon in again as Ben Duckett (two) lasted just eight balls before being caught at long leg by James Harris.

David Murphy tried to stem the tide but he managed only five runs as his thick inside edge was snaffled by Sam Robson to leave Northamptonshire reeling at 207 for seven.

Middlesex had Northamptonshire by the throat and may have been disappointed not to have killed off their opponents sooner.

Instead, a valuable eighth-wicket partnership between Hall (28) and Ian Butler (27 not out) hauled the home side back into the contest and gave their total some respectability.

Middlesex had the last word, however, as just 14 balls from the end of play, Hall was caught lbw by Roland-Jones leaving Northamptonshire struggling to post 300.