Australia likely to come knocking as Sam Robson bags second century in five days
Middlesex 280-3 v Warwickshire
Wednesday 08 May 2013
Having summoned one Middlesex opener for international duty, what odds Australia taking a close interest in another? Sam Robson, the 23-year-old who partners veteran Ashes choice Chris Rogers at the top of the Middlesex order, overtook the 35-year-old as the county's leading run scorer in the Championship so far with his second century in five days.
Robson is not out on 136 at the end of a curtailed opening day at Edgbaston, having drawn renewed attention to his international potential which, as it stands, could be exploited by England or Australia. He has played for Australia at Under-19 level but has been with Middlesex since 2009 and will qualify for England residency next year. Moreover, while he was born, like Rogers, in Sydney, Robson holds an English passport by virtue of having a Nottingham-born mother.
Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, sees Robson as an old-fashioned opener with shades of Mike Atherton in his dogged approach, and Andrew Strauss, alongside whom he batted occasionally before the former England captain retired, admired his willingness to occupy the crease for long periods.
Those qualities are serving him well currently. After sharing a partnership of 259 with Rogers against Surrey at Lord's last week, to which he contributed 129, he both led Middlesex to a strong early position in this match against Warwickshire and took his aggregate for the season in first-class matches to exactly 500 runs (at an average of precisely 100), which sets him on course potentially for his best season in English cricket.
He was dropped on 73, benefiting from a mistake the defending champions could ill afford to make in their current circumstances. Without Keith Barker and Oliver Hannon-Dalby through injury, and with Chris Woakes and Chris Wright selected for England Lions, they are woefully short of bowlers. Tom Milnes, a 20-year-old with only eight first-class appearances, shared the new ball with Boyd Rankin, with Tom Allin, making his debut, coming on first change. Milnes was the unlucky bowler as Rikki Clarke, normally the most reliable slip fielder, spilled a routine chance.
It would have been a measure of revenge for Milnes, the least tidy of the rookies, who had taken heavy punishment from Robson as he struggled to bowl the right length. On a dry pitch with short boundaries on the Rea Bank side of the square, there was little margin for error and nine of Robson's 16 boundaries came off Milnes, seven in his first four overs.
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