Madsen first to 1000-run mark
Derbyshire 279 for 6 (Madsen 105*, Slater 53) v Middlesex
Derbyshire's captain, Wayne Madsen, became the first batsmen to 1000 Championship runs this season as he compiled a brilliant century at the County Ground. He also became the fourth batsmen to reach 1000 first-class runs when he passed 31, on one of the few days where the home crowd were spoilt for reasons to cheer.
Few would have expected Madsen to be the first to reach the landmark, as part of a newly promoted side tipped to go straight back down. Indeed, Derbyshire have been overly reliant on their captain's runs, most of which have been futile - most notably 141 in an innings-and-113 run loss to Yorkshire at Chesterfield.
But he followed that innings with 159 runs in the match against Sussex, steering his side to their first win of the season with an unbeaten 62 in their second-innings chase. Now, unbeaten on 105, he has the chance to effect similar success against Middlesex.
Bowling first is certainly in vogue, but the visitors' decision to start with the ball was peculiar given that there was a chance that they would be blessed with the return of Steven Finn, should he not be required for duty in the final Ashes Test at The Oval. When 91 runs were on the board after the first session, for the loss of just one wicket, Neil Dexter could be forgiven for feeling he had been duped by a track that promised more pace than it delivered.
He brought himself on in the 22nd over - the fifth of six bowlers to be used before lunch - by which time the sun had come out to provide Madsen with optimum conditions to achieve his four-figure feat. Coming to the crease at 37 for 1, he needed 49 for the honour, while Sam Robson, the front-runner for much of this season, could only watch as he was usurped.
Madsen looked in control, aside from a couple of occasions that had him wincing; an uppish flick off his legs that Adam Voges did well to get a hand to when on 61, and a rap to his box on 96 from Toby Roland-Jones. But an over later, he stepped down the crease to Tim Murtagh to bring up his century off his 208th ball with an immaculate shot through midwicket for four.
Young opening batsman Ben Slater, as he did in Hove, supported Madsen well with some crisp back foot punches, as Murtagh and Roland-Jones - in for Corey Collymore - struggled, initially, for an effective length on a flat, slowish pitch. Both performed better after lunch, as they restricted Derbyshire to just 15 from the first 10 overs of the afternoon session, before Murtagh took two wickets with the first new ball as the day drew to a close.
Slater looked compact and organised, with a high back-lift and an appreciation of his duty at the top of the order. His movement at the crease was minimal. His sole false stroke, a thick but safe edge past second slip, took him to a second Championship half century, before James Harris got a short ball to duck across Slater and take the edge.
Harris is the designated substitute if Finn makes the trip up the M1, and Middlesex certainly got value from him with 20 overs on the first day, as both he and Gareth Berg improved on the lengths of Murtagh and Roland-Jones. If he does make way, Harris can take solace from his work, particularly an aggressive seven-over spell in the afternoon that helped Middlesex wrestle back some initiative.