PENCIL in 23 June, Northampton, as a date for the diary. On present form - and weather permitting - that will be the scene for Brian Lara to complete his next attempt at becoming the fourth batsman in history to hit six successive first- class centuries.
Yesterday he fell 74 runs short dismissed - for the second time this season - by the as yet unheralded England Under-19 bowler Richard Johnson.
The prospect of seeing history made had enticed nearly 1,000 to a chilly Lord's. Once Middlesex had done the decent thing and inserted - though it was a decision made more with an eye on the pitch than on the stands - they sat and waited for either Roger Twose or Dominic Ostler to be out.
The pair have an unenviable role, akin to Leonard Cohen being Take That's warm up act, and, after 26 minutes Twose was obligingly bowled by Neil Williams.
Enter Lara to tumultuous applause, repeated when he thick-edged a single to short third man to get off the mark. A mass holding of breath quickly followed when Angus Fraser had a huge lbw shout against him eighth ball.
Both Fraser and Williams beat his edge and it was 29 deliveries before he struck a boundary pulling Johnson to the Tavern. With 10 runs off five balls from Johnson - he was promptly taken off - Lara was back in the groove. Expectancy settled again on Lords.
It was shattered in Johnson's second over back in the attack. A shortish delivery drifting down the leg side proved irresistible to Lara whose faint touch was eagerly clutched by Keith Brown behind the stumps. It was an unworthy ball for such a prestigious wicket but Johnson was not complaining.
'It is my first Championship match at Lords and there could not be a better way to mark it,' the 19-year-old said.
Lara admitted he was 'disappointed' adding 'you don't mind if good balls get you out but wayward ones down the leg side . . .
'I am sad about the record but you can't get 100 every time you go out to bat, I am happy to have got five. It equals the West Indian record (set by Everton Weekes).'
With Lara's departure went the day's interest. Especially with Mike Gatting turning his arm over and Warwickshire grinding along at two an over.
The suspicion that Warwickshire are a one-man batting side deepened as Williams and Fraser were rewarded and Johnson celebrated with the dismissals of Dermott Reeve and Paul Smith.
Johnson ended with 3 for 45, his Championship best. One of England's brightest prospects, there is much of Fraser in him and the time will come when he is celebrated for his wickets rather than his victims.