It is hardly helping Northamptonshire in their effort to come to terms with First Division cricket that their former players seem to have it in for them. At Headingley it was the eight wickets taken by Jack Brooks that saw them off, at Trent Bridge the 158 off 152 hammered by Riki Wessels. This time Chris Rogers was the thorn in their side.
Rogers, who has scored half of his 68 first-class centuries on English soil, 33 of them in county cricket, is a welcome guest, having scored five of those hundreds in his two years at Wantage Road. Any congratulations for his 12th for Middlesex, however, may have been made through gritted teeth.
Northamptonshire thought they had him first ball, when umpire Martin Bodenham turned down an impassioned plea for lbw by Maurice Chambers, and should have had him for 17, when he pushed at a ball from Ian Butler that flew off the edge to the right of first slip David Sales, who got a hand to the ball but could not grasp it.
Having already seen off Sam Robson, who had paid for an uncharacteristically loose shot to be caught at third slip for six, they could have had Middlesex 38 for 2 with both openers back in the pavilion. As they have learnt, mistakes rarely go unpunished.
Rogers, efficient rather than fluent, went on to make 106 before he took a weary swing at Matt Spriegel’s off-spin and lost his middle stump. It brought to an end a partnership of 190 with Dawid Malan for the second wicket, taking Middlesex to within 85 of overtaking Northamptonshire’s 283 all out, in which Toby Roland-Jones finished with a career-best 6 for 55.
Malan fell for 92 for the second week running, clipping Andrew Hall straight to midwicket. Middlesex finished still 21 behind with seven wickets in hand.