Strauss off key as Joyce enhances England prospects

<preform>Middlesex 298</br>Warwickshire 18-2</preform>
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The Independent Online

If this was another frustrating day for Andrew Strauss, whose season remains in the starting blocks, it was much more satisfying for Ed Joyce, the Irishman with designs on England's Test side, even though he fell precisely 100 runs short of matching his exploits at Lord's last week.

If this was another frustrating day for Andrew Strauss, whose season remains in the starting blocks, it was much more satisfying for Ed Joyce, the Irishman with designs on England's Test side, even though he fell precisely 100 runs short of matching his exploits at Lord's last week.

Strauss, who made a stunning start to international cricket last year, followed scores of four and two against Nottinghamshire with 13 before nibbling outside off stump here. The opener is allowed a slow start. Joyce is eager to make his mark early.

Subject to ICC ratification, the Dublin-born left-hander's four-year qualification period finishes on 1 July. He has been cleared to play for Ireland in the ICC Trophy on that day, but should he maintain this form he may be attracting England's selectors by then.

His 192 at Lord's, in front of selectors' chairman David Graveney, will have helped. After yesterday's dismissal for 92, to the off-spin of Alex Loudon, he berated himself but, given that Middlesex had been 44 for 3 when he appeared and 56 for 4, it was an admirable innings.

Starting without their captain ­ Nick Knight was stuck in traffic ­ the champions looked set to take advantage as the ball swung under cloudy skies. Middlesex, having won the toss, may feel they got out of jail.

Joyce did not spring them alone. The bowlers' dominance was broken first by the Kiwi all-rounder Scott Styris, whose debut 53 comprised one single and 13 fours. After Ashley Giles had continued his fine start to the season by making Paul Weekes his 18th victim, Joyce found an enduring partner in wicketkeeper Ben Scott, who made 37 in a stand of 95.

The Middlesex recovery looked better still when Alan Richardson, released by Warwickshire in the winter, removed their openers in the space of three deliveries, Knight falling for three.

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