Essex v Middlesex: Alastair Cook scores half-century as hosts dominate day one

Alastair Cook had two centuries and two half-centuries in six previous Championship matches this seasonSpecsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day one):Middlesex 246: Stirling 77, Eskinazi 66; Harmer 5-77Essex 106-0: Cook 64*, Browne 40*Essex 3 pts, Middlesex 1 pt Essex trail Middlesex by 140 runs Scorecard

England opener Alastair Cook scored a half-century as Division One leaders Essex dominated Middlesex on day one.

Stevie Eskinazi (66) and Dawid Malan (60) put on 124 for the third wicket and Paul Stirling (77) hit five sixes to help Middlesex recover from 2-2.

But Simon Harmer (5-77) was the catalyst as the visitors slipped from 219-5 to 246 all out inside 60 overs.

Essex closed on 106-0, trailing by 140 runs, as Cook (64 not out) passed 500 Championship runs for the season.

Cook, who is set to play for England in the first Test against South Africa next week for the first time since relinquishing the captaincy, led the opening partnership, with fellow opener Nick Browne ending the day unbeaten on 40.

Essex, who are yet to lose in the four-day game this season, were in control for much of the first day of the first day-night Championship encounter to be held at the County Ground.

The visitors lost Nick Gubbins for a nine-ball duck to debutant Mohammad Amir (2-53) and Nick Compton for two to Jamie Porter (2-58) inside the first three overs.

Malan, who scored 78 on his England debut in Sunday’s T20 19-run victory over South Africa in Cardiff, led the Middlesex recovery and the visitors briefly looked in a good position on 126-2.

But Malan’s dismissal saw three wickets fall for the addition of 32 runs and the visitors were grateful to Stirling’s 50-ball 77 to see them past 200.

South African Harmer’s third five-wicket haul of the season saw Middlesex stumble four runs shy of a second batting bonus point.

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