Middlesex struggle on bowlers' day at Lord's
Middlesex 198 for 5 (Nash 53*, Berg 15*, Watkins 2-38) v Glamorgan
Glamorgan's bowlers grasped the initiative on the first day against Middlesex at Lord's, reducing the home side to 198 for 5. Jason Gillespie, who moved to Glamorgan from Yorkshire over the winter, impressed with three tidy spells but it was Ryan Watkins' bustling medium-pace which stood out, accounting for the two significant wickets of Owais Shah and Ed Joyce, before David Nash gave the hosts a lifeline with an unbeaten 53.
Remarkably, Glamorgan haven't won at Lord's since 1954. Winston Churchill was at No.10, David Whitfield's Caria Maria celebrated its fourth consecutive week at No.1 and the legendary Wilf Wooller held the reins. Glamorgan's current squad were but a twinkle in the eyes of their parents, but with an impressively disciplined allround bowling performance, they have given their side an excellent chance of ending a 54-year drought.
Play finally got underway at 2.15pm following a miserable morning's drizzle and Middlesex, inserted by Glamorgan, began promisingly. Andrew Strauss continued his fine form, tucking David Harrison through midwicket with ease though he was troubled by the extra bounce Gillespie produced from the pavilion end. Despite the helpful bowling conditions Billy Godleman appeared to thrive in the battle, twice driving Harrison through extra cover with elegant poise, but thereafter he was content to rotate the strike with Strauss.
The pair's fifty came in the 16th over as Gillespie ended a tight six-over spell. Wharf replaced Harrison at the Nursery End and initially failed to maintain a disciplined line, but eventually produced a brutish off-cutter to square-up Strauss on 36 who handed Mark Wallace the first of his four catches. Godleman rode his luck, particularly against Watkins, but then Shah edged a fine outswinger to depart for nought - smartly held low to his right by Wallace - before Godleman's patience ran out against Gillespie. Middlesex slid to 84 for 3 at tea.
Briefly, Lord's hosted a battle of the Celts - the Glamorgan British versus Middlesex's two Irish Gaels, Eoin Morgan and Joyce - but it didn't last long. Harrison was rewarded for his perseverance when Morgan swished at a leg-side stray. Joyce, meanwhile, rarely looked in control but found an ally in Nash, with whom he put on 73 for the fifth wicket, though Nash dealt primarily in fanciful edges through the slips for the first third of his innings. Joyce's rather mechanical 33 ended with a disappointing waft outside off, but Nash saw Middlesex to stumps without further loss with a grafting 50 which included seven fours.
Glamorgan's 2008 squad may not ooze the quality of Wooller's 1954 class, but what their bowling attack lacks in venom more than makes up for in guile, particularly in April. With more rain forecast for the next two days, Middlesex's last five have their work cut out.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo