Yorkshire v Middlesex (day 2, close of play): Strauss witnesses even power struggle at Marine Road
ANDREW STRAUSS, England's director of cricket, watched on as Yorkshire and Middlesex were locked in an unresolved battle to gain the upper hand on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Scarborough.
When a second weather interruption ended play with 13.4 overs remaining, Middlesex were 130-2 in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings score of 406.
Their position would have been considerably stronger if Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins had not fallen in quick succession after being largely untroubled in an opening stand of 87 in 27 overs.
The Middlesex innings began straight after lunch and Robson set the tone by hitting Brooks’s first ball for four with Gubbins soon afterwards off-driving the paceman to the boundary.
Off-spinner, Azeem Rafiq, entered the attack at 39-0 in 10 overs, but was taken off as soon as Robson straight drove him for six.
If Strauss were contemplating a long innings from Robson he was to be disappointed because he went for 40 from 74 balls, top-edging an intended pull at Jack Brooks to Will Rhodes at mid-wicket.
Inspired captaincy from Andrew Gale was responsible for the demise of Gubbins for 43. He immediately removed Brooks from the attack and replaced him with Rhodes who, in his first over, had Gubbins lbw moving across his stumps.
Stephen Eskinazi was joined by Australia’s George Bailey, in his first Championship appearance for the visitors, and they had just settled in nicely when the weather first intervened with the loss of eight overs.
On the resumption, Eskinazi cover drove Bresnan for four, but with 16 added from 21 balls they were off for bad light again with both batsmen on 19 and this time they did not return.
Gary Ballance was 106 and Rhodes 12 when Yorkshire resumed the second day on 291-5 and a third batting bonus point had just been acquired when Rhodes dragged a ball from Tim Murtagh into his stumps.
There were 12 overs remaining in which to gather further bonus points, but Ballance and Andy Hodd seemed more intent on building a big total rather than taking undue risks.
They had added 34 together and Ballance had moved on to 132 when he was the first of two wickets to fall in the same over from James Franklin. He chipped a gentle return catch after lasting for 262 balls and striking 19 boundaries.
Azeem Rafiq came and went, edging Franklin to Robson at slip, but Middlesex were frustrated by the tail as 72 came from the last two wickets in 15 overs, the effort being underpinned by Hodd.
He put on 37 with Steven Patterson, who was bowled by Steven Finn for 19, before Brooks began an entertaining last wicket stand by hooking Finn for six to get off the mark.
Hodd punished Murtagh with two fours in an over as he and Brooks piled up 35 in four overs and the lunch interval had already been held back almost 20 minutes when Hodd edged Toby Roland-Jones to Robson at slip for a valuable 37 from 87 deliveries with three fours and a six.
Middlesex’s attack had generally stuck well to their task and Murtagh, Roland-Jones and Franklin were deserving of their three wickets apiece.