Joyce's bandwagon halted by Solanki

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Ed Joyce must think that captaincy is a simple business. Win the toss, bat first, make 500. He was handed the job after a month of disappointment for Middlesex in which they had slumped from the top of the County Championship's First Division to seventh and the relegation places.

Ed Joyce must think that captaincy is a simple business. Win the toss, bat first, make 500. He was handed the job after a month of disappointment for Middlesex in which they had slumped from the top of the County Championship's First Division to seventh and the relegation places.

The quarter-final defeat in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy last week led to Owais Shah, the stand-in skipper while Andrew Strauss is on England duty, being relieved of the responsibility because of alleged tactical naïveté.

No need for nuclear science against Worcestershire at Lord's, however. Joyce, who has taken over another mantle from Strauss, that of being the county's England batsman in waiting, resumed on 59 with his side cruising on 299 for 2.

The 25-year-old Irishman, left-handed like Strauss, will qualify for England in 2005 and has already attracted very favourable reviews. He will not be tempted to pledge his allegiance to his native country in spite of their slaying of West Indies last week.

Joyce will be disappointed not to have gone on to a hundred yesterday. He fell on 82, caught behind off the South African bustler Andrew Hall. But Paul Weekes - yet another left-hander, one of five in the top seven even with Strauss elsewhere - went on to 102 off 210 balls with 12 fours.

Ben Smith needed to try something different so he threw the ball to Vikram Solanki, like Shah an England one-day reject for the forthcoming NatWest Series. Not noted for his off-spin, the fifth change grabbed 5 for 40 to eclipse his previous best, 5 for 69 on the same ground eight years ago, as Middlesex were finally dismissed for 508.

With most of Glamorgan busy taking on England in Cardiff, Nottinghamshire have a chance to pull away at the top of the Second Division after four victories in a row, playing a hitherto winless Derbyshire at Trent Bridge, and they amassed 504 for 7.

Kevin Pietersen, the South African who will probably walk into England's one-day side when he qualifies in September, made 107 off 187 balls with 15 fours and two sixes, sharing a stand of 217 with his captain, Jason Gallian.

After waiting so long to bat, Mike Hussey's brother Dave lasted one ball. In marched Chris Read to gave the selectors another reminder that he can bat as well as Geraint Jones, rattling up 130 off just 138 balls with 16 fours and three sixes. He put on 199 with Gallian, who finally departed after more than 10 hours for 190 with 24 fours and one six.

Wickets continued to tumble at the Rose Bowl as Somerset were bowled out for 203 in reply to Hampshire's 290, James Hildreth making an accomplished 61. The visitors' cause was not helped by the loss of Richard Johnson and Keith Parsons to injuries.

Rain continued to interrupt play at Headingley as Leicestershire eked out 76 for 2.

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