KENT 163/8


Middlesex delighted the majority of a county record out-ground crowd of 4,107 by reviving their T20 hopes with a 16-run defeat of Kent Spitfires at Old Deer Park, Richmond. Brendon McCullum’s captain’s innings of 88 in 51 balls looked set to be the launchpad for a formidable total but Calum Haggett’s 3-27, and a Matt Coles’ hat-trick, restricted the hosts to 179-8.

However, Kent started poorly and while half-centuries from Sam Northeast and James Neesham kept them in the hunt the rate climbed steadily. With wickets falling too they fell to their third defeat of the competition.

Put into bat on a greenish pitch Middlesex began with alacrity, but also with the benefit of fortune. Matt Coles surprised McCullum when the Kiwi was on six but though the ball popped up temptingly it fell between fielders. McCullum had scored another 11 when he drove the same bowler to Northeast at cover only for his Kent counterpart to drop him. On both occasions, to Coles’ chagrin, the next ball was smacked for four.

With McCullum reaching his 50 in the ninth over, and the opening partnership into the 80s, 200-plus beckoned. Even after Dawid Malan, having pulled Coles for six into the food tents, gloved the next ball to depart for 33 it was 125-1 after 13. But James Tredwell (1-22) and Haggett staunched the flow of runs.

Frustrated, McCallum played one bold shot too many, bowled trying to ramp, and a clatter of wickets ensued. Morgan followed successive sixes by holing out then Coles took a last-over hat-trick completed by bowling Tim Southee first ball.

Southee fared better with ball in hand, having Daniel Bell-Drummond leg before to the opener’s first ball. The in-form Joe Denly, having survived a very sharp chance to McCullum, then edged Finn to leave Kent 2-2. Sam Billings soon followed but Northeast and Neesham, running excellently for a pair only recently acquainted, and finding hitherto unseen gaps in this small outground, added 75 in nine overs. However, boundaries were sporadic and by the time Northeast skied the rate had crept above 11-an-over.

Darren Stevens quickly followed but Kent have a long battery of hitters. Blake joined Neesham and it came down to 38 off three overs, then 29 off two, but when that pair perished the game was done.