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Career Best for Buck in Opening Fixture Draw

Dawid Malan’s century saw Middlesex to a draw at Wantage Road and provided a reminder of his ability to watching England National Selector Ed Smith. Malan’s unbeaten 160, his second-highest first-class score, steered Middlesex to 317 for 4 and a lead of 143 before the visitors declared and hurried through seven overs in 15 minutes to recover a negative over rate.

Malan was one of the few to return from England’s chastening Ashes tour in credit two winters ago but this close season was spent in various T20 leagues after being dropped by England after the first Test against India in 2018 following only 219 runs in 11 innings.

His county form was also underwhelming last season with 613 runs at 29 but did make one of only four Middlesex centuries in last year’s Championship. Here, he opened the county’s hundred-tally after lunch in a largely calm and composed innings, featuring several languid drives and vicious cuts. There was the occasional loose drive outside off, he survived a raucous lbw appeal from Ben Sanderson on 63 and slapped to a diving Rob Keogh at point soon after, who couldn’t cling on to a very tough chance - but Malan earned his luck.

Having passed fifty in 60 balls on the third afternoon to blunt Northants’ victory push, he defied the hosts again on final morning adding only 24 runs but ensured time continued to tick away from the game. After lunch, he raised Rob Keogh over long-off for six and extended his boundary tally to 12 in going to a century in 179 balls, the 22nd of his first-class career.

Malan had Max Holden for steady company to continue the resistance. Holden’s runs in the second innings in this fixture last season set his side up for a remarkable victory having followed-on. Here, they ensured Middlesex left Wantage Road with nine points as he survived a number of deliveries going past his outside edge to reach fifty in 126 balls with six fours.

The stand of 105 for the fourth wicket was only broken when Holden drove firmly into the knee of Rob Newton at silly point, the ball rebounded for Adam Rossington to take the catch. 

It was just the second wicket of the day for Northants. When Nathan Buck removed Sam Robson in the fourth over of the morning - a lifter that took the outside edge to second slip - the hosts’ hopes were raised as Middlesex still trailed by 55 but that was as good as their day got. Buck finished with career best match figures of 8/107 and 12 points was still a healthy return from the opening round of the season against one of the promotion favourites.

Northamptonshire 445 (Procter 81*, Wakely 76, Rossington 67) & 10/0 (Newton 5*, Vasconcelos 5*)

Middlesex 271 (Buck 5/54, Wood 2/53) & 317/4d (Buck 3/53, Keogh 1/44) f/o

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