Honours even after Middlesex youngsters impress
Middlesex 281 for 5 v Northamptonshire
A fourth-wicket stand of 127 from youngsters Sam Robson and Adam London helped struggling Middlesex share the honours on the first day of their County Championship clash with Northamptonshire.
Robson and London both showed their more experienced team-mates how to do it after the visitors, who had won the toss and chosen to bat, slipped from 72 without loss to 90 for 3 at Wantage Road.
England captain Andrew Strauss had earlier made 25 before he departed but Robson and London dug in and John Simpson and Gareth Berg saw Middlesex through to the close on 281 for 5.
Middlesex, who have lost their opening two games of the season, avoided losing any early wickets for the first time this term as openers Strauss and Scott Newman put on 72 runs.
Their previous best had been a paltry 11 in the clash with Glamorgan last week but Strauss was dismissed in the 18th over when he played Andrew Hall onto his leg stump shortly after being dropped by Jack Brooks off the bowling of Luke Evans.
Newman quickly followed after making a breezy 44 when his off stump was toppled by David Lucas, the first time the former Surrey batsman had made it into double figures this year.
Dawid Malan, who hit a century in his last innings against Glamorgan, made just a single before he was trapped lbw by Brooks to leave Middlesex wobbling on 99 for 3 at lunch.
Robson and London stabilised their innings after the break with a solid if unspectacular fourth-wicket partnership, with boundaries few and far between. They survived the whole of the afternoon session, their partnership reaching 107 at tea, with only Lucas looking like taking a wicket for Northants when he twice narrowly missed Robson's off stump.
Both players achieved patient half-centuries in the 69th over off Northants skipper Nicky Boje, with 20-year-old Robson's arriving from 149 balls and 21-year-old London's taking eight fewer.
But Boje finally made the breakthrough when Robson (52) edged to Hall at first slip. London (77) finally went towards the end of the day when his attempted drive off Boje led to him being stumped by wicketkeeper Paul Harrison.
That left Simpson (28 not out) and Berg (four not out) to bat out the final four overs, but Northants might be left to rue the 50 extras they conceded in the day.