Compton felled as Somerset quicks thrive
Middlesex 283 (Malan 69, Robson 67, Gregory 5-58, Groenewald 4-55) v Somerset
Nick Compton made a courageous return to the crease, five hours after being forced to retire hurt when he was hit on the head by a Jamie Overton bouncer, to help Middlesex reach 283 all out on the first day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against Somerset at Merchant Taylor's School, Northwood.
Dawid Malan battled to a four-hour 69, Sam Robson played the most fluent innings of the day with 67 from 105 balls, while both Ollie Rayner and John Simpson made useful contributions, but it was Compton's grit that still stood out from the hard-fought opening exchanges.
Former England Test opener Compton returned at the fall of the seventh wicket at 256, with 15 overs of the day remaining, and ended up scoring 32 before Lewis Gregory had him lbw just before the close. Gregory then had Tim Murtagh caught at first slip with his next ball and ended up with 5 for 58 when he bowled last man Steven Finn, also for nought.
Compton was on 18 when he slumped to the ground after taking a fearful crack on the side of his helmet while trying to avoid a rapid short ball that seemed to follow him. Happily, he was soon able to stand up, and after drinking some water, walking around the square and being examined by the Middlesex physiotherapist, the sensible decision was taken for him to leave the field.
Middlesex were on 69 for 1 at the time, in the 19th over, and, as Compton recovered from the blow in the pavilion, eventually having an afternoon net in preparation for his return to the fray, they then had to manage the loss of three wickets for 30 runs which threatened to undermine the early progress to 124 for 1.
Malan, however, kept Somerset's attack at bay until deep into the final session, when he fell lbw to Peter Trego in the last over before the second new ball after featuring in stands of 38 with Simpson and 56 with Rayner.
Simpson edged behind on 24 and Rayner stayed 70 minutes for 31 before Tim Groenewald pinned him lbw to earn himself figures of 4 for 55.
Compton and Toby Roland-Jones, who finished 20 not out, then added 27 for the eighth wicket, after Compton had reported, following throw-downs with Middlesex batting coach Dave Houghton: "Yes, I'm feeling OK now and am fine to bat again."
Play had begun at 12 noon due to both teams having NatWest T20 Blast games the previous evening, Middlesex at Richmond and Somerset against Kent at Canterbury, and Robson hit eleven fours - adding 46 with Compton and then a further 55 with Malan - before he mishit Groenewald to point.
Malan then saw Eoin Morgan depart for a fifth-ball duck, edging Groenewald to Jim Allenby at first slip as he propped half-forward.
And 128 for 3 became 154 for 4 when Middlesex captain James Franklin was lbw for 17 when Gregory made one keep low as he ran down the slope from the Railway End on this scenic north-west London ground.
It was Gregory who had earlier made the initial breakthrough when he had Joe Burns, the Australian overseas player, caught at the wicket for 10 during a testing six-over new-ball spell.
Robson, though, was soon into his stride, hitting lovely boundaries through cover and midwicket. There were some rather more fortuitous thick edges to the vacant third man boundary by Robson, too, but generally the former England Test opener looked in good order.
Batting was generally trickier against the quicker bowlers coming down the slope, with Malan rapped one painful blow on his left hand by Groenewald, and although the pitch played well enough throughout a sun-blessed day attended by a crowd in excess of 1,000, it looks to be a good toss to have won, thanks to Middlesex's batting resolve and Compton's heroics.