Rogers makes County pay for early let-off

James Middlebrook toiled away for little reward as Middlesex dominated
James Middlebrook toiled away for little reward as Middlesex dominated
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When Chris Rogers, on 17, flashed at Ian Butler and edged high to the right of second slip and watched David Sales instinctively offer his right hand and grass the chance, you could almost predict what was going to happen.

And happen it did as Rogers made his way, not particularly fluently but with an air of inevitable certainty, to his second century of the season and 68th of his career which helped put Middlesex in the ascendancy on the second day of the LV= County Championship tie.

In contrast to the hosts who contrived to waste a collection of good starts to make an under-par 283 in their first innings, both Rogers and Dawid Malan got their heads down, hit the majority of what was loose and minimised any risk in a second wicket partnership of 190.

It was nothing out of the ordinary, just good, sensible cricket and provided a blueprint for Northamptonshire to follow, starting with their second innings of this contest.

The hosts, in the shape of Ian Butler and Maurice Chambers, looked comfortable first thing in the morning as they added a further 31 to the overnight tally of 251-8 before the latter prodded Ravi Patel to short leg.

Muhammad Azharullah didn’t worry the scorers as he edged the excellent Toby Roland-Jones, who recorded a career-best 6-55, to second slip, leaving Butler unbeaten on 48.

Anaemic or not, the County’s offering would’ve appeared a lot more healthy if Rogers had been adjudged leg before to the first ball of the innings from Chambers.

It looked close and the appeal was loud and prolonged but Martin Bodenham said no and, as any Middlesex supporter will no doubt tell you, it doesn’t say out in the scorebook.

The rest of the session, while the ball had some hardness, wasn’t all in the bowler’s favour and there was the wicket of Sam Robson who pushed loosely at Azharullah and found third slip.

Sales then reprieved Rogers and this put a bit of a downer on things and the mistake was magnified by the events of the afternoon which saw 119 added with no additional casualties.

The former County man proceeded to three figures shortly after tea but just as he appeared destined for something far more substantial, he advanced down the wicket at Matt Spriegel and lost his middle stump for 106.

Malan, who had played nicely, squandered his chance of a hundred when he chipped Andrew Hall to midwicket eight runs shy but the rest of the day was seen out in comfort, albeit with a slowing of the scoring rate, by Neil Dexter and Joe Denly.

When stumps were drawn for the day, the scoreboard read 262-3, a deficit of 21 and how the County fare with the second new ball could dictate whether they’re still in the game when innings number two comes around sometime tomorrow.