Middlesex v Warwickshire: Rikki Clarke puts visitors on top
|LV= County Championship Division One, Lord's|
|Close, day one: Warwickshire 338-6 v Middlesex|
|Warwickshire 3 pts, Middlesex 2 pts|
An unbroken century stand between Rikki Clarke and Keith Barker at Lord's put Warwickshire in a strong position on the opening day against Middlesex.
Clarke (93 not out) and Barker (60 not out) added 133 for the seventh wicket as the visitors closed on 338-6.
A number of batsmen got starts, including Jonathan Trott (41), but wickets fell regularly before Warwickshire took command after tea.
All-rounder Neil Dexter was Middlesex's stand-out bowler with figures of 3-63.
After home skipper Chris Rogers won the toss and elected to field first, Middlesex had to wait until the 17th over to make the breakthrough when Dexter bowled Varun Chopra for 25.
Fellow opener Ian Westwood (24) was dismissed in the same fashion by Dexter and William Porterfield trapped lbw by Tim Murtagh for 25 just after lunch as the visitors were reduced to 99-3.
Teenager Sam Hain fell to James Harris for just 10 before Dexter picked up the crucial wicket of Trott, who became the third lbw victim of the day.
Wicketkeeper Peter McKay and Clarke put on 47 for the sixth wicket to take the score to 205-5, before McKay (28) chopped Murtagh onto his stumps just two balls after tea.
But his dismissal brought Barker to the crease and he set about a tiring Middlesex attack with former England international Clarke.
The duo scored at more than four an over, as Clarke finished the day just seven runs short of his first hundred of the season.
Warwickshire all-rounder Rikki Clarke:
"It has been a while since we have played a four-day game, so it was interesting to get back to the idea of leaving the ball and blocking it.
"It does take a bit of time to adjust, but that's the job. To be in the situation we are in after the first day, having been put in, we are delighted."
Middlesex all-rounder Neil Dexter:
"My bowling is a bonus but it is something I enjoy. My job is just to bowl some maidens and then pick up some wickets if I can and I managed to do that today.
"It has been tough for the bowlers in the last few games and months, especially without Gareth Berg. And we haven't played this format for a while so there might have been a little bit of rust.
"You can't judge a pitch until both teams have batted on it. I think it is a good wicket, but when you have a team 205-6 you want to bowl them out for less than 300."
BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:
"Middlesex's Championship campaign was perhaps best encapsulated on the opening day against Warwickshire.
"Having identified that the pitch would offer some assistance early on, they inserted the visitors but were without luck as it was unanimously accepted at lunch that they deserved far more than the two wickets they returned in the session.
"The edge was beaten on numerous occasions with some unplayable deliveries.
"At 122-4, and even again at 205-6, it appeared the hosts' efforts would pay off but the costly drop of Barker off the luckless Harris helped the seventh-wicket partnership turn the day in Warwickshire's favour as the bowlers' consistency deserted them in the evening session."