Luke Hollman outfoxes Ben Stokes on close-fought opening day at Lord's

Ben Stokes gets down to reverse-sweep Getty Images

Durham 256 for 5 (Eckersley 57) vs Middlesex

Ben Stokes was one of two victims for Luke Hollman on an absorbing opening day of the LV = Insurance County Championship clash between Middlesex and Durham at Lord's.

Two weeks away from leading out England in his first match as Test captain and fresh from hitting 17 sixes against Worcestershire a fortnight ago, Stokes was clearly in the mood to make a statement. But Hollman, who'd been on the receiving of a tousing not once but twice in last week's draw with Nottinghamshire, took his scalp for just 15 in surely the biggest moment of his young career so far.

The legspinner would return figures of 2 for 49 while Toby Roland-Jones took 2 for 40, but Ned Eckersley made an unbeaten 57 against the county of his birth to guide the visitors to 256 for 5 and leave the game delicately poised.

For much of the morning Middlesex's decision to bowl first looked a strange one with the ball barely deviating off gun-barrel straight, meaning Alex Lees, in a dress rehearsal for the first Test, and fellow opener Michael Jones got off to a quick start. Save for one lbw shout and a loose drive that flew wide of second slip Lees looked in good touch in making 44 before, returning for his second spell, Roland-Jones trapped him lbw, though the England man's reaction suggested he'd hit it.

Jones, who'd begun fluently, straight driving Roland-Jones for four and twice sending Ethan Bamber deliveries to the fence, was increasingly becalmed as the home bowlers dried up the runs. Reward came soon after lunch when Jones pushed tentatively at Tim Murtagh and inside edged on to his stumps.

Then Hollman took centre-stage, enticing Durham skipper Scott Borthwick to injudiciously cut one too close to him and lose his stumps. That brought Stokes to the crease and he signalled his intent to dominate immediately by reverse sweeping the legspinner to the third man fence.

He muscled his way to 15 in the blink of an eye, but Middlesex skipper Peter Handscomb stuck by his bowler and was rewarded for his bravery. Stokes gave Hollman the charge, but the allrounder tossed one a little wider with the result the lofted drive got more height than distance and Roland-Jones gobbled up the catch at deep mid-off.

At the other end, South Africa batter Keegan Petersen nudged and deflected his way his way into the 40s almost unnoticed, but two short of 50 his first loose shot saw him slash Roland-Jones into the hands of Josh De Caires at backward point.

His departure left Eckersley as the senior batter and the wicketkeeper set about frustrating the hosts. His cover-drive off Roland-Jones just after the second new ball was taken was a candidate for shot of the day and he reached a deserved 50 shortly before stumps. His partner Liam Trevaskis was granted a life on 21 when Sam Robson grassed a difficult chance low to right at second slip, but scare survived he and Eckersley's sixth-wicket stand had realised 73 by the close.

Middlesex 4th innings Partnerships

1st15MD StonemanSD Robson
2nd32MD StonemanJM De Caires
3rd22PSP HandscombJM De Caires
4th19PSP HandscombMDE Holden
5th31JA SimpsonPSP Handscomb