Nick Gubbins struck a superb unbeaten 150 at the Kia Oval on the opening day of the Bob Willis Trophy London Derby between Surrey & Middlesex.
After hitting a hundred in last week’s two-day friendly against Surrey at the Kia Oval, Gubbins carried on where he left off by stroking 17 fours and a six to spearhead Middlesex’s progress towards 264 for four from 91 overs after opting to bat first.
Surrey’s bowlers were admirably disciplined throughout a day that was due to be part of the government’s pilot scheme aimed at getting crowds back to elite sport, before being postponed for at least a fortnight, and it was a shame that the expected 2,500 attendance was not in place to appreciate both Gubbins’ fluent knock and Surrey’s efforts in the field.
Rikki Clarke was the pick of Surrey’s seamers with two for 33, while both spinners – Amar Virdi and Dan Moriarty – impressed with their control. Moriarty, aged 20, picked up his maiden first-class wicket on debut when Matt Dunn pulled off a magnificent sprawling catch, running back from deep mid on and taking the ball over his left shoulder after Stevie Eskinazi miscued an attempted big hit.
Eskinazi made 18, as did Martin Andersson after him before being leg-before to Clarke, while Max Holden got to 48 in a second wicket partnership of 111 with Gubbins following the early loss of Sam Robson.
Robson, on 7, edged Clarke’s sixth ball at the end of the second over of the match and was brilliantly held by diving wicketkeeper Jamie Smith but Gubbins immediately looked assured, cover driving the first ball he faced for four.
Holden, though, was dropped twice off unlucky seamer Dunn on 4 and 18.
Virdi eventually ended left-hander Holden’s 136-ball stay with a ball that turned sharply to take a thin edge on its way into Smith’s gloves – and the off spinner showed his delight by immediately setting off on one of his trademark celebratory sprints into the outfield.
Moriarty, Reigate-born but schooled in South Africa, reacted similarly when Dunn’s memorable catch gave the left-arm spinner his maiden first-class scalp – but Dunn later dropped a relative sitter at mid on when John Simpson mishit Virdi on 1.
Gubbins had faced 257 balls by stumps, dominating the innings and late on advancing down the pitch to loft Virdi straight for six. Some of his extra cover driving was of the highest class.
On the second day Middlesex will have another 29 overs available to them to push on, with first innings restricted to 120 overs under Bob Willis Trophy regulations.
You can view every single day of play from The Kia Oval live on kiaoval.com and the official Surrey Cricket Facebook channel.