John Simpson of Middlesex stuns champions Lancashire in amazing turnaround
An extraordinary second day at Emirates Old Trafford saw Middlesex recover from their overnight 39-6 to post 337, their magnificent effort held together by the Lancashire-born John Simpson’s career-best 167 not out. He hit 26 fours and one six.
Having conceded an utterly unexpected first-innings lead of 78, Lancashire were 14-2 at the close and the champions may have a fight on their hands to preserve their unbeaten record.
Simpson shared three substantial partnerships during his 347- minute innings. He put on 107 for the seventh wicket with James Harris, 76 for the eighth with Toby Roland-Jones and 94 for the ninth with Nathan Sowter, the latter setting a new ninth-wicket record for Middlesex against Lancashire.
Simpson and Harris took their side to 132-6 at lunch. Having reached his half-century off 73 balls with a cover drive off Graham Onions, Simpson hit Liam Livingstone for a straight six but that was only a prelude to a further assault in the afternoon session.
Middlesex continued their domination and by tea were 252-8, only eight runs behind.
Simpson was 137 not out, having made his second century of the season but his first against the county of his birth,
He had reached his century off 154 balls with a pulled four off Tom Bailey, who had taken five wickets on day one.
Lancashire did take two wickets in the session. Matt Parkinson bowled Harris for 32 with a classic leg spinner and then had Roland-Jones caught by Onions, also for 32.
Middlesex’s batsmen continued to torment a tiring Lancashire attack as Sowter reached his 50 off 63 balls, with seven fours, and Simpson got to 150 off 236 balls.
Lancashire’s bowlers received some reward for their efforts when Sowter was caught at slip by Livingstone off Saqib Mahmood for 52 but Simpson then added 26 for the last wicket with Ethan Bamber, who top-edged Parkinson to Keaton Jennings at slip.
Bailey ended the innings with 5-78, though 24 hours earlier his figures had been 5-16. Parkinson took 3-49.
Lancashire, whose first-innings batting points sealed the title on Monday, started their second innings badly as Alex Davies top-edged a pull off Miguel Cummins to Harris at long leg for a five-ball duck.