After a rather lacklustre season at Test level which ended in a hamstring injury, Steven Finn has returned to action for table-toppers Middlesex ahead of a crucial clash against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
While the hosts are on the verge of relegation, James Franklin’s side will be eager to keep second-placed Yorkshire at bay by continuing their unbeaten run. However, Jake Ball’s hat-trick may come in their way after restricting Notts to 241.
Finn struck at regular intervals even as Samit Patel made a bold statement to the England selectors with a 137-ball 100. At the end of the first day, Ball gobbled up at least two international discards Nick Compton and Sam Robson en route to his stunning burst which reduced Middlesex to 0/3 at one stage.
Prior to the game, skipper Franklin had chirped, “Having Steven (Finn) back will be a real boost. We all know what he can do if he is on song and he is champing at the bit to be back playing cricket and maybe helping us push for the title. I'd be lying if I said there was not talk in the group about the title but we know there are still 72 points available and it is not only about ourselves and Yorkshire with Somerset still hunting.”
However, his task might have become just harder with defending champions Yorkshire firmly placed at 341/5 on the back of an Alex Lees ton. Gary Ballance was at it as well by chipping in with a neat 71.
Moores takes charge at Notts and Strauss lets one go
Following a disappointing season, Nottinghamshire have replaced Mick Newell with former England coach Peter Moores. The 53-year old will take charge of the team by virtue of a three-year deal.
Moores said, “To be offered the chance to become Head Coach of a Club like Notts at a venue as special as Trent Bridge is a terrific honour. Working with cricketers one-to-one for the last year has been an ideal way to get me back in to county cricket and it means I already know this group of players very well which will give me a head start in some ways. The passion for being a head coach again is there and the club has the ambition to be competing for trophies across all three formats of the game, so it's a fantastic opportunity.”
Meanwhile, England’s Director of Cricket, Andrew Strauss had to leave before lunch on the second day of the Lancashire-Somerset clash after getting frustrated at not getting to see a national prospect in action.
Resuming at 339/7, Peter Trego and Ryan Davies added another 184 runs as the Old Trafford surface did not offer much for the bowlers. Eventually, opener Haseeb Hameed got his opportunity and helped the Lancs to a decent start with a half-century. However, it was a bit too late as Strauss had already exited the arena.
Hameed duly followed by nicking one behind to end his vigil. But, the experienced Alviro Petersen managed to secure 10 points for the home team with a timely ton and ensured that the match ended in a stalemate.