Andrew Strauss fails after Steven Finn stars
Middlesex 12 for 1 v Worcestershire 287
Andrew Strauss suffered a setback in his warm-up for England duty when he was dismissed for a single for Middlesex against Worcestershire at New Road.
He went for a big hit off young paceman Richard Jones and was caught behind by Ben Scott, who is making his debut for the hosts following a loan move from Lord's. Strauss's early departure followed the exploits of England's latest pace prospect Steve Finn who had curbed Worcestershire's progress by taking 5 for 69.
The 21-year-old spearheaded his side's fightback after the home team had been boosted by an opening century stand between Daryl Mitchell and Phil Jaques. Mitchell was among Finn's victims after top-scoring with 85, including 11 fours off 177 balls, in Worcestershire's total of 287 off 87.3 overs. By the close Middlesex were 12 for 1 off six overs, with England captain Strauss having faced 11 balls in a 12-minute spell at the crease.
Vikram Solanki's men had been put into bat in front of a sun-soaked 1,000-plus crowd and made healthy headway before Finn grabbed his first four wickets for one run in 19 balls either side of the tea interval. It was a damaging burst for Worcestershire, who began their innings in positive fashion with Jaques, back on board for the first half of the season after enjoying fruitful stints at New Road in 2006 and 2007, soon making his presence felt along with Mitchell.
Vice-captain Mitchell was particularly cautious in the early stages and, after surviving an lbw appeal against Tim Murtagh while on eight, eventually nudged into double figures after 52 minutes. Jaques then carefully moved on to 25 before getting away with a two-handed hip-high chance to Dawid Malan at second slip off Iain O'Brien. Mitchell, however, steadily began to increase the tempo and by lunch was unbeaten on 44 with Jaques 35 not out in Worcestershire's total of 85 without loss off 29 overs.
Shortly after the interval Mitchell, the only New Road batsman to top 1,000 Championship runs last season, reached his half-century with seven fours off 101 balls. His partnership with Jaques reached three figures in the 36th over before Middlesex finally made a breakthrough in the following over thanks to debutant paceman O'Brien claiming the 300th first-class wicket of his career. The New Zealander trapped Jaques leg before for 47, including five fours, after putting on 105 with Mitchell.
Last term relegated Worcestershire produced only one opening Championship century stand which failed to arrive until mid-June in their sixth game of the campaign. Solanki managed just eight before he inside-edged to wicketkeeper John Simpson off Gareth Berg who earlier in the over had seen Mitchell survive a slip chance hile on 60.
The same combination then accounted for Moeen Ali before Mitchell and Alexei Kervezee took Worcestershire to their first bonus point shortly before the stylish Kervezee was bowled middle stump by Finn for 44.He smacked 10 fours off 37 balls and put on 65 in 11 overs with Mitchell who departed in Finn's next over when he was held at first slip by Strauss.
Lively Finn quickly struck again after tea to remove Scott who was out for a duck, as was Gareth Andrew who also departed to the Simpson-Finn double act. Ben Smith, who put on 57 with Jones for the eighth wicket, finally became Finn's fifth scalp after making a valuable 46.