Middlesex suffered a third defeat in four Friends Life t20 matches when they were defeated by Essex Eagles by six runs under the Lord’s floodlights.
Chasing theEssextotal of 155-6, the Panthers slumped to 88-7 after fifteen overs before Steven Crook and Ollie Rayner added 49 in four overs. Needing an improbable nineteen off the final over, Crook was out to the first ball of the over and Middlesex fell six runs short.
With Paul Stirling away in Ireland for their match against Australia on Saturday, Middlesex made their first team change in the competition with Adam Rossington coming into the side. As usual, Middlesex lost the toss and Essex opted to bat first.
The Essex openers, Pettini and Franklin got the Eagles off to a flying start, putting on 44-0 off the six power-play overs with Pettini scoring three fours in Toby Roland-Jones’s second over. Ollie Rayner, who had bowled the first over of the match at the Pavilion End, returned to bowl the seventh over and he bowled Pettini, off an inside-edge, for 26.
Tom Smith joined Rayner to form an all-spin attack and they restricted Essex to 63-1 at the halfway point of the innings. Franklin, who had been dropped by Joe Denly at long-on in the previous over, was then stumped by John Simpson off Ollie Rayner for 23. Ryan ten Doeschate then hit successive sixes in Tom Smith’s third over and a further six in Smith’s final over when Denly caught the ball but his momentum took him over the boundary rope.
The total reached 103-2 after fourteen overs before Neil Dexter trapped ten Doeschate LBW for 38 (off 27 balls, 3 sixes) off the first ball of the 15th over. Graham Napier joined James Foster at the wicket and after blocking the first ball he faced, Napier hit the last four balls of the over for a total of eighteen runs. Gareth Berg and Toby Roland-Jones were left to bowl the last four overs of the innings with the Eagles on 130-3.
Roland-Jones struck with the third ball of the 17th over when he had Foster caught by Neil Dexter at extra-cover for thirteen and Gareth Berg had Napier caught at cover for 28 (off just 12 balls faced) in the 18th over. Greg Smith (14) holed out to Chris Rogers at long-on to give Berg a second wicket but Wheater and Westley could only score three runs off the last four balls of the innings which ended on 155-6. Ollie Rayner had figures of 2-16 from four overs, Gareth Berg 2-27 and Toby Roland-Jones 1-33 both from four overs; Neil Dexter took 1-24 from two overs.
In reply, Middlesex lost a wicket to the third ball of the innings when Joe Denly (1) drove Tim Phillips tamely to mid-on where Franklin took the catch. Adam Rossington joined Chris Rogers and Rossington scored a four and a three in David Masters’ opening over at the Pavilion End. Rossington then hit Phillips for a straight six in the following over but Chris Rogers (3) was caught at mid-wicket off the fifth ball of the over.
Graham Napier replaced Phillips for the third over from the Nursery End and he struck with his first delivery when Dawid Malan (1) drove him straight to Ryan ten Doeschate at extra-cover. When Rossington was LBW to Masters for 22, Middlesex were in dire straights on 28-4 in the 6th over. Neil Dexter managed just five runs off eleven balls faced before he was caught at the wicket in Reece Topley’s first over.
John Simpson joined Gareth Berg and the pair added 43 for the sixth wicket in 5.1 overs before Simpson was caught at cover off Greg Smith’s bowling for twelve. Gareth Berg hit Tim Phillips for a six but was out off the next ball when he top-edged an attempted reverse and was caught by ‘keeper James Foster for a valiant 39 (off 36 balls).
Steven Crook joined Ollie Rayner with the score on 88-7 after fifteen overs and Crook hit a Greg Smith delivery for six into the Grandstand before he hit Napier for a six and a four in the following over. Ollie Rayner joined in the fun by scoring twelve runs off James Franklin’s over as the Panthers were left with 31 needed off the last two overs.
Twelve runs were scored off the penultimate over from Napier with Rayner hitting him for a six and a four. However, with nineteen needed off the final over, Steven Crook was caught on the cover boundary by Pettini for 22 (off 10 balls faced) from the first ball of Smith’s over. Ollie Rayner did his best, hitting Smith for a six before Toby Roland-Jones (1) was run out off the last ball of the match as Middlesex finished on 149-9.
Ollie Rayner was 39 not out (off 21 balls, 2 sixes & 3 fours); Tim Phillips took 3-27 from four overs, David Masters 1-19 from four overs and ‘man-of-the-match’ Graham Napier 1-29 from four overs.
Middlesex Panthers have made two enforced changes to their Friends Life T20 squad for the upcoming matches against Essex at Lord's on Thursday and Sussex at Hove on Friday.
Paul Stirling and Tim Murtagh are absent as both have been selected in the Ireland squad to play Australia in Belfast on Saturday. The pair have been replaced by Adam Rossington and Gurjit Sandhu.
These two matches will go a long way to determining whether Middlesex Panthers will get out of the South Group and qualify for the quarter-finals of this year's competition. Two victories would place the team very much in contention at the top. One or two defeats would leave us with very little room for manoeuvre in our remaining games.
The absence of Stirling is a blow as he is potentially our most destructive batsman and the 71 he scored on Monday played a significant role in helping the team defeat Hampshire on Monday. Of the players on Middlesex's staff Rossington is the most similar in style and the 19 year-old has an excellent chance of playing on Thursday. Those who know Middlesex CCC cricket are aware that Rossington is an exciting young batsman and it is great that he will be given opportunities to show his potential.
Sandhu comes into the place that Robbie Williams was pencilled in for, but sadly Williams suffered a nasty injury during the recent friendly against West Indies when he fractured his collar-bone and is unable to play. Sandhu is a left arm seamer who has bowled well in the 2nd XI limited over matches he has played in.
Middlesex CCC are pleased to announce the following 14-man squad to play in their Friends Life t20 match against Essex Eagles tomorrow, Thursday 21 June at Lord's:
Neil Dexter (captain)
BUY BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE & SAVE £5 - Adult tickets cost £20 in advance, but will cost £25 on the gate on the day; £5 for Under 16s - http://tickets.lords.org
Middlesex members can purchase Rover Tickets for their guests from the ticket office by calling 020 7289 1300 (Adults £15, U16s £5). Rover tickets will also be available to purchase on the day from the Grace Gate Ticket Sales Point.
Gates open at 4.45pm with the match starting at 6.15pm.
Get to Lord's early and collect your 4&6 cards, cricket bat clappits and Panthers flags from the Shooting Star CHASE volunteer collectors from around the ground. There will also be a steel band at the Food Village and a Jazz Band by the Harris Garden, not to mention the Pantherettes and Pinky the Panther! Come and join the party!
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