DURHAM took a firm grip of the game this afternoon, reducing Middlesex to 68 for four after declaring on 568 for nine.

John Hastings made a good impression on his debut, using his powerful 6ft 6in frame to smash two sixes in his unbeaten 38 before removing fellow Australian Chris Rogers in his second over.

The fact that Toby Roland-Jones took four of the five Durham wickets to fall today, finishing with five for 103, confirmed that there was more movement available for the seamers.

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Durham exploited it well, especially Mark Wood, who came on first change and immediately looked dangerous, taking wickets in each of his first two overs. But the weather intervened when rain forced the tea interval to be brought forward by two overs.

Hastings generally used his height to hit the pitch, but also bowled some big in-swingers when he pitched it up.

Left-hander Rogers was trying to leave the ball which snared him but got a bottom edge into his stumps.

Sam Robson, tipped for an England place, struggled to 24 before edging a perfectly-pitched away swinger from Wood to Phil Mustard.

Wood moved one the other way to have left-hander Dawid Malan caught by Michael Richardson at third slip and the same fielder held an even better one, low to his right, when Ben Stokes found the edge of Neil Dexter’s bat.