On the truncated opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Nottinghamshire, Middlesex found themselves in a relegation battle. Middlesex closed the day at 162 for three, keeping an eye on Kent’s progress against Lancashire in Canterbury, as they needed to outperform Kent’s result or match it with at least one more bonus point to avoid relegation to Division Two next season.
Despite having won only two batting bonus points throughout the season, Middlesex captain Toby Roland-Jones decided to bat first. The team managed a run rate close to the required four runs per over in the 42 overs played after a delayed start due to rain. However, whether they can convert this start into a substantial points total remains uncertain, especially since they lost Stevie Eskinazi to a head injury after being struck by a ball from Lyndon James.
The partnership between Ryan Higgins (60) and John Simpson (26), currently worth 69 runs, will be crucial for Middlesex on day two.
Nottinghamshire started the day by announcing the departure of Jake Ball, their former England fast bowler. Ball made only a few Championship appearances in recent seasons due to recurring injuries but was given the opportunity to play in this match. He took the new ball alongside Brett Hutton and managed to take a wicket, dismissing Sam Robson.
Hutton also took a wicket, removing Mark Stoneman leg before. Lyndon James made an immediate impact when he was introduced into the attack, getting rid of Max Holden’s middle stump. Middlesex was 93 for three when Eskinazi had to leave the field after being hit on the side of the head.
The day included a couple of interruptions, one for rain and another when Steven Mullaney landed heavily while making a diving stop. However, Mullaney returned to the field after the brief injury scare.
It will be determined overnight whether Middlesex will need a concussion substitute for Eskinazi. In the meantime, Ryan Higgins took the lead role on the field, reaching his second consecutive fifty and his ninth of the season.
This match also marked the end of Tim Murtagh’s cricket career, as he is retiring at the age of 42. Murtagh had a long and successful career, with his last appearance in the previous match being his farewell after 23 years as a player, initially at Surrey and then at Middlesex since 2007.