Nick Gubbins 98* defies Middlesex, Liam Dawson tons cements advantage

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By Webdesk

Hampshire 284 for 4 (Dawson 111*, Gubbins 98*) vs middle sex

Nick Gubbins marked his first appearance against junior club Middlesex by knocking 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 hit six sticky hours and 262 balls on a dry and level pitch, while Dawson hit 111 not out of his own swing in a slightly livelier four hours. The pair put down 190 to break a 100-year record for the fifth wicket for Hampshire against Middlesex, beating the 149 scored by Lionel Tennyson and Tom Jameson in June 1923.

Middlesex, who had been asked to field first, had the upper hand at 94 for 4 after Josh de Caires took two ahead, but was then kept at bay as Hampshire reached the close at 284 for 4.

Gubbins left Middlesex in 2021, initially on loan, after progressing through the age groups in 152 first-team games in seven years. That departure was made with Gubbins keen to play his home cricket more on striker-friendly wickets – with Lord’s then moving towards the bottom of the runs-per-wicket tally – and, he hoped, to press his case for an England call-up.

He has averaged a smidgeon under 36 since his entrance into the Ageas Bowl – with his double centuries against a Lancashire attack featuring James Anderson and Hasan Ali in 2022, the pinnacle in two inconsistent years.

Gubbins often walked to the crease in innings’ formative overs, and Fletcha Middleton’s footworkless drive at Toby Roland-Jones in the fifth over marked another early arrival. A frenetic period saw Joe Weatherley fall at the gully, Gubbins run out almost half the field and Weatherley caught square-legged and took over a shorter Tom Helm throw – the fast bowler was particularly accurate in the morning.

The dry pitch, pristine blue skies, the heat of the sun and the Kookaburra ball – which are being tried out in this round of Championship matches – mean spin is likely to prevail in this match.

Offspinner de Caires, one of four spinners between the two sides, was introduced as early as the 15th and took the wickets from James Vince and Ben Brown. Vince had picked him up for two sixes in his brisk 35 before he was leg ahead to one straight before Brown pushed hard to short leg. De Caires had previously only had Shan Masood as a first-class victim in his first championship appearance of the season.

The slowness of the field needed batters to settle in to succeed, Gubbins rose to the challenge and thrived. He had only 32 of the first 100 balls he faced, with his full power and naturally aggressive tendencies suspended for an occupation, which Dawson carried with him.

Despite coming into the crease 30 overs later than Gubbins, Dawson reached his maiden half century. Dawson, perhaps a shame he wasn’t named as Jack Leach’s replacement on England’s Ashes team, was a master of hole maneuvering, hard running and cutting.

He reached his third fifty in his last five Championship innings in 87 balls, before Gubbins broke through the covers later in the over to reach his milestone in 148 deliveries. Dawson also won the race to three figures, after batting more carefully, with 164 balls. It was his 12th first-class century and first in the Ageas Bowl since 2019.

Gubbins – who had only met his former county in non-competitive or 2nd XI matches – was given a life after a simple square leg chance was fired and despite batting nearly all day, he will have to wait a century.

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