Nick Gubbins marked his first appearance against boyhood club Middlesex by grounding them down with an ultra-patient unbeaten 98 as he and centurion Liam Dawson wrestled control for Hampshire in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Gubbins batted for six sticky hours and 262 balls on a dry and flat pitch, while Dawson added an unbeaten 111 of his own in a slightly sprightlier four hours.

The pair put on 190 to break a 100-year record for the fifth wicket for Hampshire against Middlesex, beating the 149 scored by Lord Tennyson and Tom Jameson in June 1923.

Middlesex, who had been asked to field first, had been in the ascendancy at 94-4 after Josh de Caires had taken two for 93 but were ground down as Hampshire reached close 284-4. 

Gubbins left Middlesex in 2021, initially on loan, after 152 first-team matches in seven years having come through the age groups.

That departure was made with Gubbins’ keenness to play more of his home cricket on batter-friendly wickets – with Lord’s then towards the bottom of the runs-per-wickets tally – which, he hoped, would push his case for an England call-up.

He has averaged a smidgeon under 36 since his arrival at the Ageas Bowl – with his twin centuries against a Lancashire attack containing James Anderson and Hasan Ali in 2022 the highlight in two inconsistent years.

Gubbins has often walked to the crease in the formative overs of innings, and Fletcha Middleton’s footwork-less drive at Toby Roland-Jones in the fifth over meant another early arrival.

A frenetic period saw Joe Weatherley dropped at gully, Gubbins almost run out by half the pitch, and Weatherley caught at square leg taking on a shorter Tom Helm delivery – the fast bowler particularly accurate in the morning.

The dry pitch, unblemished blue skies, the heat of the sun and the Kookaburra ball – being trialled in this round of Championship fixtures – means spin is likely to be prevalent in this match.

Offy De Caires, one of four spinners between the two sides, was introduced as early as the 15th over and picked up the wickets of James Vince and Ben Brown.

Vince had picked him up for two sixes in his lively 35 before he was leg before to one which straightened before Brown hard-handedly pushed to short leg. De Caires, on his first Championship appearance of the season, only previously had Shan Masood as a first-class victim.

The slowness of the pitch needed batters to settle in to succeed, Gubbins took on the challenge and thrived.

He only had 32 off the first 100 balls he faced, with his full force and naturally aggressive tendencies shelved for an occupation, which dragged Dawson along with him.

In fact, despite coming to the crease 30 overs later than Gubbins, Dawson reached his half-century first. Dawson, perhaps unfortunate not to be named as Jack Leach’s replacement in the England Ashes squad, was a master at manoeuvring gaps, running hard and cutting.

He reached his third fifty in his last five Championship innings in 87 balls, before Gubbins punched through the covers later in the over to notch up his milestone in 148 deliveries.

Dawson also won the race to three figures, after more careful batting, in 164 balls. It was his 12th first-class century and first at the Ageas Bowl since 2019.

Gubbins – who had only faced his former county in non-competitive or Second XI games – was given a life after a simple chance was shelled at square leg and despite batting almost all day a century evaded his vigil.