Harris intrudes upon Taylor's debut ton
Nottinghamshire 298 for 9 (Taylor 106, Read 62*, Harris 4-75) v Middlesex
A witty MCC April Fool declared a stiff breeze took out the Father Time weathervane two weeks ago. The breeze was back throughout the opening day of the season but there was no joke for Nottinghamshire at Lord's as they lost a commanding position as quickly as losing a piece of paper in the wind.
James Harris took four wickets in 11 deliveries shortly before tea to transform the day's outlook after Brendan Taylor's Championship-debut century, in his first innings at Lord's, initially gave the visitors such a comfortable scoreline. In tandem with his namesake, James, the Taylors added 108 for the third wicket before Harris's devastation from the Nursery End.
The first wicket was a gift. James Taylor misjudged a pull and plunked a catch straight to midwicket but thereafter, Harris's bowling became livelier than the orange heels on his boots to find movement up the slope and win three lbws from Nick Cook. A score of 180 for 2 became 183 for 6.
How Taylor must have cursed his error. Samit Patel went third ball playing back; Riki Wessels after the same duration having been half-forward; and then Brendan Taylor also caught out by a delivery that held its line. Will Gidman then survived another leg before appeal as the day blew away from Notts.
Harris might not have played had Toby Roland-Jones been fit but a shoulder injury meant there was no choice to be made between Harris and Tom Helm, a very promising 20-year-old right hander. And Harris recovered from two fruitless spells with two overs of madness having changed ends.
Until then, the Notts management were warmly congratulating themselves on a signing to end their troubles at the top of the order. Brendan Taylor has sacrificed his Zimbabwe career to play county cricket and looked every measure a higher class of player as he compiled a chanceless 160-ball century. Middlesex did not bowl consistently well enough to create sustained pressure but still the Zimbabwean was far more comfortable than Steven Mullaney - dropped twice before he played on - or James Taylor.
He drove very pleasantly. An early example was a stroke into the grandstand off Harris half an hour before lunch. He was prepared to drive in the air too, lofting Murtagh over mid-on in the third over after lunch. A nudge up the slope followed to raise fifty in 105 balls. He needed only 55 more deliveries to reach three figures. There was a better lofted boundary off Murtagh - a sweet strike straight over the bowler's head; Taylor held the pose.
Adam Voges was also taken down the ground and a delicate paddle sweep took him into the 90s. Rolling Harris towards the Tavern brought up a century that was good entertainment.
But Taylor's work was undone by the 11-ball rampage from Harris and it took captain Chris Read to gather a couple of batting points; almost three by the close. Read, very much used to firefighting, slumped his shoulders and let out a deep sigh once again to make an 80-ball half-century, going to fifty with consecutive boundaries. He would not have been impressed by Vernon Philander, a very capable batsman, running past a Voges delivery to be stumped.
Without Read and Taylor, Notts may have been embarrassed having won the toss. As it is, with capable seamers themseleves and a Middlesex batting order that often proved flaky last season - and Dawid Malan suffering a suspected broken finger - they have a handy score.
Taylor has now made centuries in his last four matches; two at the World Cup against Ireland and India and last week against Loughborough MCCU on his Notts first-class debut. With this latest hundred he became the first player in Notts history to make first-class centuries in their first two games for the county.
For the first half of the day, he had Middlesex at his mercy. With a strong breeze and some swing, there was encouragement for the bowlers but the hosts could not find a consistent enough attack. Harris was perhaps the most frustrating, conceding 30 from his opening 11 overs, with five boundaries. There were too many escapes offered.
Some of them self-inflicted by the hosts with a number of chances going down. Middlesex do not have the safest slips cordon, especially without Ollie Rayner's big hands, and they allowed Notts to ease into the day with Malan and then Voges dropping regulation chances off Helm. At that stage, it looked far from being Middlesex's day.
Alex Winter is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo He tweets here