Middlesex finished their Clydesdale Bank 40 programme by completing a double over local rivals Essex at Lord’s.
After Middlesex posted a total of 288 all-out, thanks to a brilliant hundred from Dawid Malan, Essex fell well behind the scoring rate and when the umpires brought the players off the field due to bad light with 29 balls remaining, Middlesex won the match by 54 runs under Duckworth/Lewis regulations and finished as runner-up to Lancashire in ‘Group A’.
Middlesex welcomed back Paul Stirling after injury and gave a List ‘A’ debut to Gurjit Sandhu; sadly nothing was at stake apart from local pride as neither county could progress to the semi-finals of the competition. Middlesex rested Chris Rogers, Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones ahead of the LV=CC match against Worcestershire starting the following day.
Essex won the toss and on a day with showers forecast, asked Middlesex to bat first on a wicket pitched towards the Tavern Stand. Middlesex lost a wicket to the third ball of the day when Joe Denly was caught at the wicket for a duck off slow left-arm spinner Tim Phillips. Paul Stirling joined Dawid Malan at the wicket and ten runs came off the first over from Maurice Chambers.
Twenty-one runs came from Chambers’ third over which included two no-balls and four successive fours by Dawid Malan to take Middlesex to 50-1 from just six overs. Mills replaced Phillips at the Pavilion End and Stirling took eleven runs off his opening over before Stirling got a top-edge to a Greg Smith delivery and keeper James Foster took a brilliant catch above his head to dismiss Stirling for 29 (off 21 balls).
Neil Dexter scored twelve off 22 balls before he pulled a Greg Smith delivery straight to Ryan ten Doeschate at mid-wicket. Gareth Berg joined Malan and the pair brought up the hundred in the 17th over with Malan reaching a 45 ball fifty (8 fours) in the following over. The pair batted with increasing confidence and with excellent running between the wickets they took Middlesex to 201-3 after thirty overs.
Gareth Berg reached his fifty in the 31st over (off 52 balls, 5 balls) and Malan reached his second hundred in the competition, in the next over (off just 89 balls, 1 six & 10 fours). The batting power-play was taken after 32 overs with the score on 216-3 but after Berg scored a two and a four off Bopara, Berg was caught at the wicket off the next ball for 61 (off 58 balls, 6 fours), the pair having put on 130 for the fourth wicket.
Josh Davey joined Malan who went on the rampage, hitting both Bopara and Harbhajan Singh for sixes before Davey was caught by Owais Shah at mid-off from Ryan ten Doeschate’s bowling for eleven. Malan’s fine innings ended in the 38th over when he was caught by the juggling Chambers at long-on for 134 (off 108 balls, 3 sixes & 12 fours) to give Harbhajan Singh a wicket. Wickets were then sacrificed as further sixteen runs were added off the remaining 15 balls with the Middlesex total of 288 all-out including six penalty runs for a slow Essex over-rate.
Corey Collymore and Steven Crook opened the bowling for Middlesex and they kept the Essex openers Pettini and Westley in check, restricting them to 39-0 after nine overs. At this point, Gurjit Sandhu was brought on for his first bowl in the Middlesex first team and he struck with his second delivery when Pettini (29) cut him straight to Gareth Berg at cover.
Harbhajan Singh was promoted up the order as a ‘pinch-hitter’ but the move failed when Collymore took a return catch to dismiss him for three. When Ravi Bopara was caught at the wicket in Sandhu’s second over for two, Essex were reduced to 51-3 in the 12th over. Owais Shah joined Westley who hit Collymore for a six but Collymore finished a seven over spell of bowling with figures of 1-20.
Westley and Shah did their best to accelerate and Westley reached a 67 ball fifty (1 six & 4 fours) in the 24th over out of a total of 126-3. Westley hit Neil Dexter for a six but he was out in Paul Stirling’s second over when Tom Smith, running in from deep square-leg, held the catch to dismiss Westley for 68. Owais Shah reached his fifty in the 29th over (off 46 balls, 1 six & 4 fours) but he was out in the next over when he hit a Stirling delivery straight to Tom Smith at backward point to be dismissed for 53.
James Foster joined Ryan ten Doeschate with Essex needing an unlikely 124 runs from 10.2 overs in fading light with the visitors some fifty runs behind the Duckworth/Lewis rate. Foster scored twelve off ten balls before he was bowled by Gareth Berg and when Ryan ten Doeschate (18) was caught at mid-on by Tom Smith off Sandhu’s bowling, Essex were reduced to 193-7.
At this point, Chelsea Pensioner, John Back, resplendent in his scarlet uniform, beat 12th man Tom Scollay in picking-up the players’ drinks holders and marched onto the ground to provide the Middlesex players with their refreshments – he was given a thunderous round of applause when he marched off!
Essex added a further five runs before the umpires mercifully brought the proceedings to a halt, due to bad light, leaving Middlesex the winners by 54 runs under D/L regulations. Gurjit Sandhu had figures of 3-28 from six overs with Paul Stirling taking 2-22 from four overs.
Despite no longer being able to qualify for the semi-finals of the CB40 this remains a match we want to win.
Essex are local rivals and we want to finish the season with a win. As a club we have played a lot of good cricket in this competition in 2012 and we want to ensure that we end up second in our group too.
In light of the importance of the two LV=CC matches we still have to play this seson we will, however, be resting some players for the game at Lord's. Chris Rogers, Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones will not be considered for the game. Eoin Morgan, who scored a magnificent 120 against Worcestershire, is away with England's one-day squad but Paul Stirling is expected to return to the side should he successfully come through a game of club cricket this weekend.
Josh Davey, who scored an excellent 50 against Worcestershire, remains and Adam Rossington replaces John Simpson behind the stumps.
Our bowling resources will be bolstered by Corey Collymore and Gurjit Sandhu, a left arm seamer who is yet to play a limited over game of cricket for the club.
Middlesex are pleased to announce the following 12-man squad to take on Essex in this Clydesdale Bank 40 match on Bank Holiday Monday 27 August, starting at 1.45pm.
Neil Dexter (c)
Gates open at 12.15pm and the match starts at 1.45pm
Tickets can be bought on the gate and cost £18 for adults, £9 for over 65s and £5 for under 16s.
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