Middlesex kept their Clydesdale Bank 40 hopes alive with an emphatic ten wicket win over Gloucestershire at a sun drenched Cheltenham College ground.
After restricting the hosts to 214-9, Middlesex openers Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan knocked the runs off with 57 balls to spare and in doing so broke the Middlesex first wicket partnership record of 210* in List A cricket, set by Paul Weekes and Ed Smith against Northumberland at Jesmond in 2005.
Middlesex lead now Group A of the CB40 with 12 points from ten games with the Netherlands on 11 points (9 matches),Lancashire on 10 points (7 matches) and Gloucestershire on 9 points (8 matches).
Middlesex made two changes from the side that defeated Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday with Paul Stirling returning from Ireland duty to replace Tom Scollay and with Steve Finn coming in for Ollie Rayner. After Neil Dexter won the toss for Middlesex, he put the hosts into bat first.
Steve Finn opened the bowling for the visitors but ten runs came off the over with Rob Nicol depositing the second ball of the over square-leg for six. Nicol and Marshall took the score to 19-0 before Nicol was well caught by Eoin Morgan at mid-on, off Finn’s bowling for twelve.
Toby Roland-Jones got into the act when he had Hamish Marshall caught by Gareth Berg at second slip for seven. Howell and Housego were tied down by the Middlesex attack with Roland-Jones having figures of 1-11 from five overs and Steve Finn 1-22 from six overs as Gloucestershire reached 33-2 after eleven overs.
However, Howell and Housego began to accelerate with 24 runs coming from three Tom Smith overs before he was replaced by skipper Neil Dexter at the Chapel end. The pair took the hosts to 90-2 after 21 overs before Dexter bowled Howell for 28. Dexter then switched to the College Lawn end with Paul Stirling being brought on to replace Dexter at the Chapel end.
Alex Gidman hit Dexter for sixes in successive overs and with Dan Housego hitting Stirling for a four and a six off successive deliveries, Gloucestershire reached 149-3 after 28 overs. Gareth Berg replaced Dexter and with his second ball, Gidman top-edged a pull and Steven Crook took a fine catch at square-leg to dismiss Gidman for 27. Housego, who had played some sparkling cover drives in reaching 68, was then caught at mid-on by Rogers off Paul Stirling’s bowling to reduce the hosts to 153-5 in the 30th over.
Cockbain and Young took the score to 170-5 after 33 overs before Cockbain struck Stirling for a six in an over which cost 15 runs and the same batsman hit Berg for successive fours in the following over. The batting power-play was taken after 35 overs with the score on 196-5 and Toby Roland-Jones returned to the attack to replace Stirling. Cockbain hit the second ball of the over for a four but he was bowled, next ball, for 31.
Steve Finn returned at the College Lawn end and he struck with his third delivery when he bowled Young for nineteen. Jon Batty was bowled for a single off the first ball of Roland-Jones’ following over but with only five runs coming off the remainder of the over and Steve Finn restricting Fuller and Saxelby to three singles in the 39th over, only sixteen runs came off the four batting power-play overs.
Fuller was run out off the second ball of the final over when he attempted a second run to Crook at long-off and was beaten by Crook’s throw to the keeper. With Toby Roland-Jones conceding only a single off the remaining four balls of the over, Gloucestershire finished on 214-9 from their forty overs. Toby Roland-Jones finished with figures of 3-24 from 8 overs with Steve Finn taking 2-27 from 8 overs, Gareth Berg 1-28 from 5 overs, Neil Dexter 1-25 from 4 overs with Paul Stirling taking 1-51 from six overs.
Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan began the Middlesex reply with just nine runs coming off the first three overs before Rogers struck two fours off Saxelby in the fourth over of the innings. Norwell replaced Saxelby at the Chapel end but Rogers hit him for successive fours through the covers with superbly timed shots. After the eight compulsory power-play overs, Middlesex had reached 42-0 with Rogers scoring thirty of the runs to Malan’s eleven.
A further 27 runs came off the bowling power-play and Rogers reached a 47 ball fifty (9 fours) in the 14th over. Dawid Malan grew in confidence reaching 43 not out out of a total of 105-0 after nineteen overs. Rogers hit Fuller for a six over mid-wicket in the following over and when Norwell returned to replace Fuller at the Chapel end, Rogers hit him for three fours in the over.
Malan reached his fifty off 63 balls (6 fours) in the 24th over as the Panthers reached 146-0. Ten runs came off the next over from Young before Malan hit Howell for a six in the 26th over. Rogers reached a ninty ball hundred in the following over (1 six & 14 fours) before Dawid Malan hit three sixes in an over from Norwell which cost 24 runs.
The batting power-play was taken after 28 overs with the score on 195-0 and Rogers responded by taking three fours in the first of the power-play overs from Saxelby. Four singles came from the next over, bowled by Fuller before Malan drove the third ball of the 31st over to the extra-cover boundary to complete a resounding win for Middlesex. Chris Rogers was 122 not out (off 102 balls, 1 six & 18 fours) and Dawid Malan was 89 not out (off 81 balls, 4 sixes & 7 fours); the pair had put on 136 runs for the first wicket in the win over Essex at Chelmsford, four days earlier.
Our CB40 group is extremely close and competitive as we reach the climax of our group. There are a number of teams who could yet go through with Middlesex being one of them.
If we are to qualify for the semis then we have to win our remaining three matches, starting with Sunday's fixture against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.
It is fair to say Gloucestershire have been something of a bogey side for us in one-day cricket. I don't want to count how many times they have beaten us in white ball cricket, but I know it is too many. This is the game for us to readress this issue. We need to win and we have a strong side out with Steven Finn and Paul Stirling being added to the squad that won at Chelmsford. The only player unavailable is Joe Denly, who has a groin strain and will need managing through the remainder of the season.
Gloucestershire under John Bracewell are a very competitive side. They are disciplined and well drilled. They make the most of what they have, which is a wonderful quality. Our challenge is to match them in intensity. If we can do that we have a great chance of winning.
Cheltenham College is a wonderful venue and two years ago we had a magnificent game against them. Middlesex scored a huge total and in a topsy-turvy game they just came out on top in the final over. To lose was galling but you left feeling 3-4,000 spectators had watched a fantastic game of cricket.
I am happy for that to happen again so long as the result is different.
Middlesex are pleased to announce the following 13-man squad to play against Gloucestershire Gladiators in the Clydesdale Bank 40 match at Cheltenham on Sunday 22 July, starting at 1.45pm:
Neil Dexter (c)
To keep up to date with Middlesex County Cricket Club news and updates! Click here to visit our page or click the like button below to like us.