Middlesex kept their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 League alive with a comprehensive nine wicket win over Essex at Chelmsford.
The bad weather that has dogged their CB40 campaign recently, continued against Essex with the match not starting until 7.00pm and being reduced to a 25 overs per side match. Middlesex made two changes from the side that lost at Old Trafford on Monday night with Eoin Morgan and Tom Scollay replacing Paul Stirling (away with the Irish t20 squad) and Joe Denly rested with a slight groin problem.
Neil Dexter won a rare toss for Middlesex this season and he had no hesitation in sending Essex into bat first in the conditions; Essex were without skipper James Foster whose wife is expecting a baby imminently.
James Franklin and Mark Pettini scored twelve off the first two overs before Toby Roland-Jones struck twice in his second over, having Franklin caught at the wicket for four and then having Greg Smith LBW for a first ball duck. Tom Westley joined Pettini who was in sparkling form as the Eagles reached 40-2 after eight power-play overs.
Only two singles came off the next two overs from Gareth Berg and Tom Smith before Pettini took a four and a single off Gareth Berg’s third over. Pettini brought up the Essex fifty with a six off Smith and the total reached 62-2 before Westley, who had struggled to twelve off 27 balls was caught by Chris Rogers on the mid-wicket boundary off Tom Smith’s bowling. Ryan ten Doeschate hit the last ball of Smith’s over towards the mid-wicket boundary and Pettini went for a second run but he was run out for 44 (off 43 balls) by Chris Rogers’ direct hit on the bowlers’ end stumps.
Graham Napier joined ten Doeschate with the score on 64-4 after fourteen overs and he took eight runs off Ollie Rayner’s solitary over. The pair took the hosts to 86-4 in the 19th over before Napier was caught for a run-a-ball fifteen by Malan at third man off Steve Crook’s bowling. When Neil Dexter had ten Doeschate (9) caught by Dawid Malan at long-on in the following over, Essex were in some disarray on 89-6 with only 5.5 overs of the innings remaining.
However, after seven runs came off Gareth Berg’s final over, Mickleburgh hit Dexter for a six and a four off successive deliveries as Essex reached 111-6 after 22 overs. The two over batting power-play was taken and Wheater hit Roland-Jones for a six in an over that cost eleven runs. Wheater then hit Neil Dexter for successive sixes with a total of seventeen runs coming off the penultimate over.
Three runs came off the first two balls of the final over from Roland-Jones before Wheater holed out to Gareth Berg at long-on for an excellent innings of 33 off just 18 balls (3 sixes). Four runs came off the remainder of the over as the Essex innings closed on 146-7 with Mickleburgh 22 not out. Toby Roland-Jones had figures of 3-25 from five overs with Tom Smith taking 1-15 from four overs, Steven Crook 1-33 from five overs and Neil Dexter 1-39 from five overs.
Only eight runs came off the first four overs when Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan began the Middlesex reply but Rogers hit Masters for a six in the fifth over. Mills replaced Napier at the Hays Close end and after Rogers struck the first ball of the over for a four,Rogers was missed at first slip when Westley parried the ball but was unable to reach the rebound. Malan then hit the first ball of Masters’ fourth over for a six and Middlesex reached 45-0 after eight power-play overs.
Essex used four different bowlers in successive overs at the Hays Close end of the ground in an effort to disrupt the smooth progress of the Middlesex openers who, with good placement of the ball and good running between the wickets, took the Panthers to 89-0 after fourteen overs. Masters was brought back for his final over but Rogers hit him for a six and with eleven runs coming off the over, Middlesex were 100-0 after just fifteen overs.
Malan reached a run-a-ball fifty in the next over (1 six & 4 fours) and Rogers reached his fifty in the 17th over (off 48 balls, 2 sixes & 5 fours). Malan hit Phillips for a six and the total reached 136-0 after just twenty overs before Rogers was caught at mid-on off Mills’ bowling for 64 (off 60 balls, 2 sixes & 6 fours). Tom Scollay joined Malan and after only four singles came off two overs, Malan finished things off with two fours off Mills as Middlesex won by nine wickets with fifteen balls to spare. Malan was the ‘man-of-the-match’ for his innings of 76 not out (off 68 balls, 2 sixes & 7 fours).
The result at Old Trafford on Monday means that Wednesday’s game against Essex at Chelmsford is a must win for the Panthers if we are to maintain a strong challenge to qualify for the semi-finals of this year’s CB40 competition.
We are without the services of Paul Stirling and Tim Murtagh who are due to play for Ireland against Bangladesh in a 3-match T20 Series at Stormont also starting on Wednesday. We may also be without Joe Denly, who has a groin strain and will take a fitness test prior to the match.
Tom Scollay and Josh Davey are added to the squad in an attempt to cover all possible options at Chelmsford.
Middlesex is pleased to announce the following 14-man squad to play in the Clydesdale Bank 40 match against the Essex Eagles at Chelmsford tomorrow, Wednesday 18 July.
Neil Dexter (c) Gareth Berg Steven Crook Josh Davey Joe Denly Dawid Malan Eoin Morgan Ollie Rayner Chris Rogers Toby Roland-Jones Tom Scollay John Simpson Tom Smith Ollie Wilkin
The match is due to start at 4.40pm and will shown live on Sky Sports.