Lord's floodlights add a touch of history to the gloom

Middlesex 136 for 4 vs Northants

Middlesex's batsmen fought back from a sticky start against Northamptonshire to reach 136 for 4 on a shortened opening day of the Specsavers County Championship at Lord's.

Inserted on a greenish wicket, the home side slumped to 63 for 4 before lunch, with Northants seamers Ben Sanderson and Brett Hutton picking up two wickets each.

But Sanderson squandered a chance to cement his side's grip on the game, dropping John Simpson at fine leg before the Middlesex wicketkeeper went on to share an unbroken stand of 73 with Paul Stirling.

Simpson (31*) and Stirling (40*) seemed well set when bad light halted play - despite the Lord's floodlights being in use for the first time in a Championship fixture.

Middlesex deployed an inexperienced batting line-up, with club captain Dawid Malan unavailable and Nick Gubbins, Eoin Morgan and Stevie Eskinazi all ruled out through injury or illness.

That left 20-year-old Max Holden - who spent a successful loan period at Northamptonshire last season - to open alongside stand-in captain Sam Robson, with debutant Robbie White coming in at three.

Holden managed just eight before he nudged Sanderson (2-30) to second slip - and White left the next delivery, which moved back to flatten his off stump.

Australian Test batsman Hilton Cartwright, also making his Championship debut, went on the offensive with a couple of boundaries off Doug Bracewell and then pulled Hutton into the Mound Stand for six.

But Hutton, who joined Northants on a permanent basis from Nottinghamshire during the winter, took his revenge with a slower ball that foxed Cartwright after a brisk 30.

Having dropped anchor with a gritty 14, Robson also fell victim to Hutton as he was trapped leg before to compound Middlesex's difficulties.

After lunch, Simpson had made only three when his top-edged hook sailed towards the waiting hands of Sanderson, only for the fielder to spill what looked a regulation catch.

Simpson made the most of that let-off, beginning to play his shots as the bowlers' accuracy waned and carved Bracewell through the covers to bring up the 50-partnership with Stirling.

Meanwhile, the Ireland international took advantage of the short boundary on one side, hitting seven fours, but Middlesex were unable to build on that momentum as deteriorating light forced the players from the field just before 3pm.

They returned briefly towards the end of the day and Richard Gleeson found some movement during the 3.5 overs that were bowled, with Stirling adding a further four runs to the total before play was finally abandoned.