Middlesex 100 for 1 trail Durham 204 (Rayner 4-17, Franklin 3-26) by 104 runs
Graham Onions had bowled a spell of high quality, jagging the ball around in the evening sunshine. He had taken one wicket, but Durham were still far behind the match, and the umpires had stubbornly ignored his furious gesticulating when appealing for several lbw shouts. Then, in the fifth-last over of the day, he elicited an edge from Nick Gubbins' bat behind. Onions' exuberant leap in the air spoke of his joy and relief at claiming another wicket. This, though, would soon give way to howls of despair: Gubbins was spilled by Michael Richardson behind the stumps, and Onions was left punching the air in anger and disbelief.
The next delivery, Nick Compton pushed a ball into the off side; Gubbins prematurely hared towards the striker's end, leaving Durham the chance of a run-out. The stumps were missed, and Durham's frustration intensified.
In the next over, Chris Rushworth found the edge of Compton's bat. This time Scott Borthwick, at second slip, spilled a hard, low chance. It was Middlesex's third reprieve within five minutes: no howls of Durham anguish this time, only quiet despair that their admirable bowling had earned so little reward.
Durham's day had all begun so well. After five consecutive draws at Lord's, there is a distinct tinge of green to this Lord's pitch. Add in cloud cover, and one fancied Durham to refrain from tossing at all. Instead Paul Collingwood elected to bat, allowing Middlesex to bowl, just as they had intended.
Yet initially Collingwood was vindicated. The sight of Ollie Rayner coming on to bowl his offspin at 12 minutes past 12 was testament to the skill with which Durham's openers played - notwithstanding Rayner reprieving Mark Stoneman on 4 at second slop - and how, despite its unusual greenness, there was nothing untoward about this wicket. Perhaps there was a little frustration for Durham in seeing Stoneman's efficient flicks of his hips, given his impending departure to Surrey, although at least Keaton Jennings' new four-year contract means that Durham will only need to find one new opener in time for next season.
On an overcast morning, James Franklin and Rayner made for an unlikely pair of destroyers. But together they turned the game, as Durham's 74 for 0 became 74 for 4 in 17 crushing deliveries. It was the second time in consecutive innings that Middlesex have taken the first four wickets without the addition of a single run.
Although he has 82 Test wickets, Franklin now has the air of a reluctant bowler, and considers himself a batting allrounder. At 35, his pace is markedly down on his international days, but he remains a left-armer who swings the ball late enough to imperil batsmen with a relentless line. A surprise short delivery accounted for Stoneman, attempting a rather extravagant pull, and Jennings was then trapped lbw, his forward stride not convincing enough to relieve him. All the while, the dots kept racking up: it took Durham 27 balls to score a single run off Franklin.
Such parsimony contributed to the bedlam at the other end. First, Rayner produced a consummate offspinner's dismissal, pitching a ball on Borthwick's middle stump, and turning it past his forward defence to uproot his off stump. Rayner's exuberant celebrations spoke of his euphoria at removing a prize scalp in such a way. The very next ball, Richardson drove a ball into the offside, and Jake Burnham charged down when no run existed, and was easily defeated. Panic in a cricket team can be infectious.
Some zesty lower-order hitting ensured that Durham would at least clear 200, but Rayner's return ensured a total that felt a long way short of par. He ended with four wickets, having utterly made amends for his spilled chance; Paul Stirling's athletic pounce at midwicket, to end Mark Wood's counterpunching, gave Rayner no reason to chunter at the fielding of his own bowling, and he could revel in first day figures of 4 for 17.
"It's unheard of, isn't it?" he smiled, though he rightly lauded Franklin for Middlesex's fine day. If Middlesex could gripe at their skipper, it was only for his negligence in appealing when Adam Hickey edged behind; happily, his teammates were rather more vociferous in calling for an affirmative response from the umpire.
For all the vim with which they bowled in the evening, Durham's mood would not have been improved by seeing Compton, who has scored four centuries against them in his career, survive to the morning. Having got a Lord's pitch conducive to a positive result, Middlesex will know the day looms as critical in their aspirations of winning the County Championship.
Tim Wigmore is a freelance journalist and author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts