Middlesex suffered their sixth Friends Life t20 defeat when they were beaten by two wickets by Essex Eagles under the Chelmsford floodlights.
After posting a below par total of 109 all-out, Middlesex were seemingly out of the match with the hosts on 77-1 after eleven overs. However, wickets were lost when the hosts tried to finish the match quickly in an attempt to boost their run-rate and they eventually got home with fourteen balls to spare.
With Paul Stirling and Tim Murtagh away representing Ireland and with Eoin Morgan and Steve Finn on England duty, Middlesex gave a first team debut to Ollie Wilkin, a product of the Ealing Youth system.
After Neil Dexter won the toss for Middlesex and elected to bat first on a wicket which offered turn for the spinners and a bit of ‘nip’ off the pitch, the Panthers reached 11-0 before Neil Dexter (2) was disappointed to be given out LBW to Napier off the last ball of the second over.
Adam Rossington joined Joe Denly and the former scored seven before he went for a second run to deep mid-wicket and was beaten by Wheater’s throw to the keeper and was run out. Middlesex had reached only 30-2 from the six power-play overs but they lost a further wicket in the seventh over when Dawid Malan was caught and bowled by Greg Smith for nine.
Gareth Berg and Joe Denly added 28 for the fourth wicket but they were unable to locate the boundary, scoring 24 singles between them before Berg was bowled by Tim Phillips for twelve. When John Simpson attempted a run to Pettini at extra-cover, he was beaten by the throw to the bowler and was run out for a duck to leave Middlesex on 71-5 in the 15th over.
Joe Denly hit Ryan Topley for a straight six in an over which produced seventeen runs and Denly reached a run-a-ball fifty in the following over (1 six & 2 fours) before Middlesex lost a further two wickets in the space of two balls. Ollie Rayner was caught at the wicket off Ryan ten Doeschate for two and Steven Crook was out, next ball, when he was caught by Owais Shah at short third man to reduce Middlesex to 91-7 in the 17th over.
Ollie Wilkin joined Joe Denly and they added seven runs before they fell off successive deliveries from Reece Topley. Denly was caught by ten Doeschate on the mid-wicket boundary for 53 and Ollie Wilkin fell in an identical manner for four. The Middlesex last wicket pair of Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Smith added ten runs in the final over of the innings before Roland-Jones (5) was stranded in mid-wicket and the bowler, Graham Napier had time to collect the ball and run to break the stumps at the bowlers’ end. Tim Phillips had figures of 1-12 from his four overs with Ryan ten Doeschate taking 2-7 from two overs.
After Ollie Rayner conceded only a single off the first over, Michael Pettini scored two off the first ball of Steven Crook’s over but after he pushed the second ball out on the off-side,Franklin was beaten by Crook’s athletic throw to the keepers’ end and he was run out for a duck without facing a ball. Greg Smith joined Pettini who dominated a second wicket partnership of 74 in 10.4 overs.
Pettini hit Tom Smith for a four and a six off successive balls in the fifth over and hit the first ball of the next over from Toby Roland-Jones for six and with two further boundaries coming in the over,Essex were 48-1 after the six power-play overs. Dawid Malan was brought on to bowl his occasional leg-breaks in an effort to achieve a breakthrough but nine runs came from his solitary over.
Pettini reached a 38 ball fifty (3 sixes & 4 fours) with a six off Gareth Berg before Tom Smith returned at the Hayes Close End of the ground. He bowled Greg Smith for 27 with his first delivery at that end and four balls later had Pettini caught at the wicket by John Simpson for exactly fifty. Graham Napier (6) who had been promoted in an effort to boost the Essex run-rate was caught by Ollie Wilkin at deep square-leg in Smith’s final over – Smith finishing with figures of 3-24 from four overs.
Only nineteen runs were needed from six overs when Ollie Wilkin, in his second over, nipped one back off the pitch to trap Owais Shah LBW for eight. Eight runs came off the 16th over when Steven Crook returned at the Hayes Close End but Ollie Wilkin struck twice in his third over, bowling Ryan ten Doeschate for two and bowling James Foster for eight, next ball.
With just seven runs needed off eighteen balls, Wheater reverse swept Ollie Rayner for a two and a four before he was caught by Ollie Wilkin at square-leg for seven. However, Ollie Rayner’s next delivery was a wide and Essex won the match by two wickets. Ollie Wilkin had figures of 3-12 from three overs.
Middlesex CCC are pleased to announce the following 12-man squad to play against Essex Eagles at Chelmsford tomorrow, Thursday 5 July, starting at 7pm:
Neil Dexter (captain) Gareth Berg Steven Crook Joe Denly Dawid Malan Ollie Rayner Toby Roland-Jones Adam Rossington Tom Scollay John Simpson Tom Smith Ollie Wilkin
Both Tim Murtagh & Paul Stirling are unavailable for this match as they are in the Ireland squad for the 2nd 1-day match against Afghanistan, which is due to take place tomorrow, Thursday 5 July in Dublin.
The Middlesex Panthers final home Friends Life t20 match is taking place this Sunday 8 July at Uxbridge Cricket Club, starting at 2.40pm.
Tickets are still available to buy online until 12pm tomorrow, Thursday 5 July, and on the gate on the day, priced at £15 for adults, £8 for over 65s and just £5 for under 16s, so head on down and cheer on the Panthers!
Gates open at 1pm, with the match starting at 2.40pm.