Cricket: Centurions put Middlesex in charge against Glamorgan
PUBLISHED: 19:29 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:29 17 June 2019
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Centuries for Paul Stirling and Sam Robson put Middlesex firmly in charge after two days of their County Championship clash with Glamorgan at Radlett.
Stirling hit a County Championship career-best 138, his first four-day century in almost two years, while Robson's 107 was his first ton of the campaign.
In a quirk of fate, Ireland international Stirling's previous career-best, 111 against Yorkshire in June, 2017 also came on a day when Robson hit three figures.
The duo's efforts carried the hosts to 410 before the bowlers took over to reduce Glamorgan to 112-3 in an elongated final session.
Middlesex resumed at 151-3 with Robson 15 short of his century and while the former England man accumulated quietly, Stirling was typically aggressive.
An on-drive to mid-wicket took Robson to three figures, but soon afterwards Marnus Labuschagne spun one just enough to take the edge of the right-hander's bat to give Tom Cullen his second catch of the innings.
Stirling pressed on and with George Scott providing good support, the pair added 76 either side of lunch before the latter was bowled offering no shot to one which came in a touch from outside off-stump.
This was Stirling first red-ball knock at first-class level since Ireland's Test Match with Afghanistan in India back in March, but he played with authority, reaching his own century with a sumptuous drive down the ground - his 12th boundary.
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To their credit, Glamorgan kept plugging away on a pitch offering less bounce than day one and a little bit of spin and eventually wickets began to fall with regularity.
John Simpson nicked Timm van der Gugten into the gloves of Cullen and then it was the turn of Labuschagne to take centre stage, pinning Tom Helm LBW with one which kept low before castling centurion Stirling nine short of what would have been his highest first-class score.
Nathan Sowter struck three boundaries in a breezy 28, but the end came swiftly after tea, Marchant de Lange (3-94) having the leg-spinner caught behind, before sending Tim Murtagh's middle stump cartwheeling out the ground.
That left the visitors 35 overs to face and they made the worst possible start. Charlie Hemphrey pushed the second ball of the innings into the covers and called for a run, but non-striker Nick Sellman hesitated before setting off and wasn't in the frame when Nick Gubbins' direct hit sent him packing.
Labuschagne counter-attacked, producing a succession of boundaries, though he was given a life when edging one from Helm to Robson at first slip on 32, only for the umpire to call no-ball.
The Australian Test all-rounder made the most of the reprieve, moving to 50 from 57 balls, passing 700 runs for the season in the process, before the second wicket stand of 80 was ended by Murtagh who trapped Hemphrey in front.
New batsman Lloyd could have gone cheaply when flashing at a bouncing delivery from Steven Finn, Stevie Eskinazi just failing to cling on to what would been a blinder above his head.
However, the former England paceman gained ample compensation from the next delivery when Labuschagne (51) skied another ball which climbed on him, giving Stirling a simple catch at point.
There was still time for in-form Billy Root to be spilt at slip by Robson in the final over of the day, denying Sowter deserved reward for an excellent spell.
Nevertheless, Middlesex still have hopes of enforcing the follow-on on day three.
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