COUNTY CRICKET: Middlesex CCC v Lancashire CCC: Evergreen Jimmy Anderson shines on sunny spring day at Lord's
PUBLISHED: 18:13 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:16 11 April 2019
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Middlesex CCC hosted Lancashire CCC on day one of the first County Championship match at Lord's this summer. Read on for Layth Yousif's close of play report with the home side reduced to 236-9 after an impressive display by the evergreen Jimmy Anderson as wellas former England colleague Graham Onions.
JIMMY Anderson took his first County Championship wickets at Lord’s for 16 years on the opening day of Lancashire’s clash with Middlesex.
The England paceman was still a fortnight shy of his Test debut against Zimbabwe in May 2003, the last time he came through the Grace Gates to represent the Red Rose county in the 4-day format.
Among the then 20-year-old’s victims that day was a certain Andrew Strauss – a hint we were soon to be in the presence of greatness.
Some 575 Test scalps later, Anderson was back at the Home of Cricket, donning his county cap and kick-starting his Ashes year with all the craft and artistry garnered in the meanwhile, en route to figures of 3-41.
And his efforts saw the visitors take the first day honours, reducing the hosts to 236-9, but while the Burnley Express was in the spotlight, others deserve honourable mentions.
For Middlesex, who got the thin end of a draw with Northants in the first set of fixtures last week there were plusses. Stevie Eskinazi and Nick Gubbins both struck dogged half-centuries, displaying a stickability sadly lacking in the Seaxes’ first innings at Wantage Road. Sadly though, once they were gone an all-too familiar first innings collapse ensued with Tom Bailey (4-51) also among the wickets for the Division Two favourites.
Anderson was the first to put his mark on the game after Dane Vilas exercised his right to bowl first.
The Lancashire skipper’s faith in his strike bowler was soon rewarded when Anderson found the edge of Sam Robson’s bat and Glenn Maxwell did the rest at second slip.
There could have been more reward for the 36-year-old in a first spell full of craft and devilry. Gubbins survived a huge LBW shout while both he and Eskinazi played and missed numerous times.
Both however dug in, Gubbins hitting some trademark cover drives, one of them off Anderson a great response to his earlier working over.
Eskinazi too was pugnacious, picking up several boundaries in shifting the early momentum towards the hosts, though he survived a scare on 32 when Maxwell failed to cling on to another edge, this time from the bowling of Graham Onions.
Gubbins was first to reach 50 from 104 balls courtesy of his eighth four, Eskinazi following shortly afterwards from just two balls more.
The pair raised the century stand and by mid-afternoon Middlesex were sitting pretty at 126-1.
However, that was Bailey’s cue to turn the tide once more, first trapping Gubbins LBW with one which swung in from around the wicket.
Lady luck then shone on the Lancashire seamer as Eskinazi (75) got a tickle to one fired down the leg-side and young Brooke Guest, deputising for Alex Davies, injured in the morning session, took a sprawling catch behind the stumps.
Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan, fresh from making 160 last week, picked up in similar vein with four early boundaries, only for Anderson to return and have him taken at slip by Keaton Jennings for 24.
Malan’s dismissal sparked a cluster of wickets, England one-day skipper Eoin Morgan slashing a wide one from Josh Bohannon to Rob Jones in the gully, while Maxwell got due reward for some frugal off-breaks when John Simpson dragged one on.
Max Holden (34) had played nicely, but Anderson returned with the new ball to induce another edge and Bailey despatched both James Harris and Steven Finn before the close.
Earlier the mind wandered as you made the way past the emblem of the three seaxes indented on the tiles at the well-ordered St John’s Wood tube.
Middlesex were hosting visitors Lancashire at the home of cricket on day one of their County Championship clash in NW8 with a moveable feast of cricketers awaiting for your delight, even in Division Two – especially in Division Two.
Anderson, Onions, Footit and Bailey may sound like a provincial firm of unprepossessing solicitors but there was nothing dull about relishing the chance to watch messrs, Jimmy, Graham, Mark and Tom in action for the Red Rose.
With an uncontested toss resulting in the Old Trafford outfit battling first the chance to savour a fit again Toby Roland-Jones, Steven Finn, James Harris and the wily Tim Murtagh was postponed for another day.
So, as you made you way up the elegant escalator and into the light and along the Wellington Road stepping up your pace, racing the clock to see the first ball of 2019 bowled at Lord’s, glorious Lord’s you hoped, no longed for the remarkable – and let it be said, legendary - Jimmy to roll back the clock.
Anderson didn’t disappoint.
The scowl. The hunched shoulders. The air of perpetual grievance.
His disdain of batsmen who played and missed off his bowling was a delight to watch, never mind his utter annoyance at inside edges - which lent him the air of a man who had forgotten to put his bins out after a Bank Holiday weekend.
It was wonderful to study Anderson’s technique at close quarters even after more than 15 years of watching him play cricket in the flesh.
His rhythm and pace. His shielding of the ball with his left hand until the last split second before release. His sublime, whippy away swing.
His figures by the end of the afternoon session bore witness to his craft: 14-4-30-1.
And he will still tell you he should have hade more wickets and conceded fewer runs.
You could tell that by the way he thrust his sweater into the umpire’s hand without deigning to look at the official, very much in the way a millionaire would hand a put upon waiter an empty glass on a yacht.
Yes, there were others who played well. But the old warhorse steaming in with the evocative terracotta pastels of the evocative Edwardian pavilion was a joy to behold.
Follow sports reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29