Lancashire pay for Law's double drop

Middlesex 382 Lancashire 253-2

Stuart Law is appearing in his 300th first-class match and as the best Australian batsman ever to play only one Test match he will not wish to remember the first two days.

Stuart Law is appearing in his 300th first-class match and as the best Australian batsman ever to play only one Test match he will not wish to remember the first two days.

On Tuesday, in his accustomed position of first slip, he dropped Sven Koenig, when 115, off James Anderson. Koenig went on to make 171. Yesterday, Law dropped Paul Hutchison, off Anderson, when he was on three. Hutchison only added another run but the significance of his escape lay in when it occurred.

Law's miss came in the 127th over of the innings. Hutchison's dismissal came in the 133rd and as his was the ninth Middlesex wicket to fall, it meant that Lancashire had missed a third bowling point, such points being won only in the first 130 overs. Middlesex might feel that they, too, missed out on a fifth batting point (at 400) but were probably grateful, after being 329 for 6 in the 105th over, to come so close.

"Koenig on fire" screamed Teletext overnight but this was a very different day, low cloud combining with a cool cross-breeze. "A smouldering ember" would have been more appropriate to describe him yesterday and even that was extinguished with the last ball of the first over from Anderson, when his middle stump went flying.

Anderson was sharper, straighter and more hostile than on the first day. Lance Klusener was trapped almost immediately and the Middlesex innings might have crashed but for a masterly rallying of the tail by the undefeated David Nash.

Lancashire's reply moved so smoothly that it was a surprise when, in the 38th over, Iain Sutcliffe charged Chris Peploe and was bowled. An hour later, the spinner turned one past Mark Chilton's bat when he was near a century.

Peploe, 23, is the tall, slim successor to Phil Tufnell and he took some punishment with commendable equanimity. He does not have Tufnell's chutzpah, but nor is he likely to end up in a television jungle.

Final irony: Law, when 28, was missed at square leg - a hard chance - off Nantie Hayward.

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