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County Championship: Wickets pile up on day one between Glamorgan and Middlesex

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne was bowled by Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi for just eight
LV= County Championship Division Two, Sophia Gardens (day one)
Glamorgan 122: Cooke 31; Roland-Jones 3-34, Shaheen 3-35
Middlesex 171-6: Stoneman 53, Roland-Jones 39*; Harris 3-48
Middlesex (3 pts) lead Glamorgan (2 pts) by 49 runs with 4 wickets remaining

A bowler-friendly surface in Cardiff saw 16 wickets fall on day one between Glamorgan and Middlesex.

The game hangs in the balance as the visitors took a lead of 49 with just four wickets in hand.

Earlier, having been put in to bat, Glamorgan collapsed to 122 all out with Pakistan paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi taking 3-35 on his Championship debut.

But bowlers James Harris and Timm van der Gugten led Glamorgan’s fightback as they took five wickets between them.

The visitors slipped to 110-6 before a useful unbroken partnership of 61 between John Simpson and Toby Roland-Jones steered them to their slender lead.

At the toss, Middlesex captain Peter Handscomb had no hesitation in opting to bowl first, buoyed by the presence of Shaheen on a green surface.

Experienced seamer Toby Roland-Jones was the pick of the Middlesex attack though, bagging 3-34 with his relentless accuracy.

The battle between Shaheen and world number one batter Marnus Labuschagne was highly anticipated – and following the trend of the day, the bowler emerged victorious.

Labuschagne’s dismissal highlighted the two-paced nature of the pitch as he was bowled, inside edging on to his stumps attempting to leave a ball that bounced awkwardly off a good length.

But many of Glamorgan’s top-order wickets also stemmed from poor shot selection, as Kiran Carlson played a loose drive outside the off stump, top-scorer Chris Cooke pulled to the fine leg boundary and captain David Lloyd was calamitously run out.

And the experiment of spinner Andrew Salter opening the batting failed once more as he departed for a duck in the second over.

Pitch debates and batting woes aside, it was a day of two high-quality bowling attacks going head-to-head.

Roland-Jones and Shaheen were ably assisted by Tom Helm and Martin Andersson in heaping the pressure on Glamorgan’s batters before Harris and Van der Gugten ripped through the Middlesex top order.

Michael Neser and Michael Hogan were largely ineffective as openers Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman raced to a partnership of 42 in eight overs.

But Harris, against his former side, broke the partnership having Robson lbw for 21 and then managed to extract some sharp uneven bounce from the pitch to take two further wickets before the close of play.

Van der Gugten plugged away with unwavering accuracy to finish with 2-35 as Middlesex lost five wickets for 42 runs.

But Simpson and Roland-Jones’ counter-attacking partnership weathered the storm and could prove vital in a low-scoring contest.

The outcome of this match, while likely to be much shorter than four days, is likely to depend on whether the pitch flattens or deteriorates on day two.

Glamorgan bowler James Harris told BBC Radio Wales: “A lot has happened today and we’ve probably come off slightly worse now that they have a lead.

“We were right in the game having them 110-6. But we are disappointed with our score, our batting didn’t go to plan but we’re still in the game.

“The wicket was doing a bit but I don’t think it was a 120 all out pitch.

“A good spell of bowling and batting for a long period of time in the second innings and we’re back in the game.”

Middlesex bowler Toby Roland-Jones told BBC Radio London: “It was a good day in the end, it’s always nice when you bowl first to have a team seven down after an hour.

“Shaheen showed his class but he was backed up well by everyone else. It’s great to still have the strength and depth in our bowling unit despite a few injuries.

“It wasn’t always the easiest wicket to bat on and our openers got a good started but their bowlers tested us throughout the middle overs.

“We’re pleased to start climbing ahead and get those runs on the board.”

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