County Championship round-up: Yorkshire's Gary Ballance the first to reach 500 runs for the season

Batsman of the Day

Gary Ballance's star continues its ascent. Ahead of the naming of the first England squad of the summer, for the one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen on 9 May, the Yorkshire left-hander became the first in the country to reach 500 first-class runs for the season with his third century in seven innings, as Yorkshire took the upper hand at Lord's. Steven Finn's rediscovered form brought him eight wickets in the match but Ballance's 130, of which 120 were scored today, enabled the visitors to leave Middlesex a target of 472 for victory.

Only once in their history have Middlesex scored more in the fourth innings to win a match, chasing down 502 to beat Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1925, yet with Australia's Test opener Chris Rogers unbeaten on 122, they will resume on day four almost halfway there for the loss of only one wicket. England hopeful Sam Robson was caught by Ballance in the slips for 77.

Bowler of the Day

Northamptonshire's decision to leave out Maurice Chambers and David Willey from their side to face Lancashire after suffering a heavy defeat by Yorkshire last week looked a risky move, but it paid off at least in part at Wantage Road when 20-year-old pace bowler Olly Stone, appearing in only his fourth first-class match, ripped through Lancashire's lower order to give his side a chance of victory.

Stone dismissed Tom Smith, Glen Chapple, Kabir Ali and Simon Kerrigan in the space of 12 deliveries as the visitors crumbled from 272 for 6 to 284 all out in the second innings, leaving Northamptonshire needing 240 to win, although they left themselves with plenty to do after England's James Anderson increased his match haul to eight wickets in reducing them to 77 for 5.

Extras

Ben Foakes, the England Lions wicketkeeper who so far cannot wrest the gloves from captain James Foster when he plays for his county, led the way with his third first-class century as he and Foster rescued Essex from 71 for 5 to establish a substantial lead over Gloucestershire at Bristol.

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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