County Championship: Dane Vilas century solidifies Lancashire's control over Middlesex

Lancashire batter Dane Vilas
Dane Vilas century against Middlesex was the 25th of his first-class career

LV=County Championship Division One, Old Trafford (day three):

Middlesex 194: Robson 86; Bailey 3-38; L Wood 3-52

Lancashire 330-5: Vilas 124, Wells 97, Bell 56*; De Caires 2-72

Lancashire (5 pts) lead Middlesex (1 pt) by136 runs with five wickets remaining


Dane Vilas struck a century as Lancashire compiled a healthy first-innings lead over struggling Middlesex on a rain-hit day at Old Trafford.

Vilas, 38, who is retiring this month from first-class cricket after seven seasons with the county, hit 124, his 10th Championship hundred as the Red Rose ended on 330-5, 136 runs ahead.

He shared stands of 128 with Luke Wells (97) and 106 with George Bell, who is 56 not out.

Only 46.1 overs were possible with Middlesex unable to add any bonus points in their battle to avoid relegation.

Rain had wiped out the entire morning session with play not beginning until 14:00 BST and resuming 62 runs ahead, Middlesex needed quick wickets to get back into the contest.

Their cause had also not been helped with news that relegation rivals Kent had enforced the follow-on at home to Nottinghamshire.

But a wretched first hour saw Lancashire score 76 runs in 15 overs to move into the lead as Vilas and Wells were untroubled.

In fact, there was surprise when Wells fell three short of a second Championship ton of the summer.

He advanced down the wicket to India spinner Jayant Yadav aiming for a big shot to bring up his hundred and it looked like he had been stumped, but it was actually a brilliant reflex catch by wicketkeeper John Simpson.

But Bell joined Vilas to continue to deepen Middlesex's misery. The young 20-year-old played a fine support role as the former Lancashire captain moved into the nineties.

Then when Toby Roland-Jones dropped a fraction short, Vilas steered one out to the offside boundary to bring up his first Championship hundred since April 2022 and the 25th of his first-class career, this coming off 155 balls.

He had been short of runs all summer, with only one 50 beforehand, but there was a huge outpouring of support from his team-mates and the small, but knowledgeable, Old Trafford crowd recognising Vilas' contribution over the last seven seasons, of which four were as skipper.

The South Africa player eventually went for 124, but only after Bell had reached the third half-century of his career.

Rain then chopped off almost nine overs at the end of the day to conclude a bad one for Middlesex.

They have 21.5 overs left to claim at least four wickets and get the two more bowling points on offer, before they can begin batting again in a bid to save the game.

With Kent in a strong position to force victory over Notts, Middlesex really cannot afford to lose this one.