A sublime, unbeaten century from Sam Robson saw Middlesex take control of their opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Warwickshire.
Robson finished on 175 not out, having shared in a 180-run opening stand with Nick Gubbins, as Middlesex closed the first day on 317 for four at Lord’s.
While it could hardly have gone any better for the hosts, Warwickshire did not enjoy the day captain Ian Bell would have envisioned when, for the second successive Sunday, he invited the home team to bat without a toss.
Warwickshire, missing injured bowlers Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin, went wicketless in the first session as Robson and Gubbins, who made a stylish 68, punished the many loose balls served up on a sluggish surface.
Robson, who had reached his half-century before lunch, cut and drove beautifully and was particularly severe on anything on his legs, while Gubbins wristily punished Warwickshire in front and behind point.
Too often, however, Warwickshire played to the pair’s strengths, and Bell certainly would not have planned for spinner Jeetan Patel to bowl five overs before lunch, or been using Jonathan Trott’s medium pacers, either.
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After lunch, the pitch appeared to quicken and Keith Barker troubled Gubbins, who despite reaching a fine half-century from 102 balls was drawn into a wild waft at Chris Wright and the thick edge was well taken by Rikki Clarke at second slip.
Nick Compton lasted just one ball, pushing hard off the back foot and being brilliantly taken by Sam Hain, diving to his left-foot at backward point.
By this stage, however, Robson had recorded his first hundred since May 2015.
He reached the milestone in 158 balls, including 16 fours, many through point. Anything remotely short was cut behind square for four – whether Bell posted a man to prevent the shot or not – and his organised defence meant he did not play at anything he did not need to.
Robson ended the day having struck 24 fours in his 280-ball knock and, with spots up for grabs in England’s batting line-up, the 26-year-old – who played seven Tests in the summer of 2014 – could yet stake a claim for a recall.
Robson had lost Dawid Malan, who left a delivery from Barker that took out his off stump, and Adam Voges, who played on to the same bowler, either side of the new ball, but put on a highly entertaining 54 in 13 overs with John Simpson as the shadows lengthened.
Simpson rocked back and pulled Wright into the Mound Stand to bring up Middlesex’s third batting point on what was emphatically Robson’s day.