MCC vs Middlesex – Champion County Match
MCC 332 & 151
MIDDLESEX 179 & 306 FOR 9
MIDDLESEX WON BY ONE WICKET
Day Three Report
A brilliant hat-trick from Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton was not enough for the MCC as Middlesex chased down 305 by one wickets to win a thrilling Champion County game in Abu Dhabi with a day to spare.
John Simpson, the scourge of Somerset in the past, played the decisive innings, navigating choppy waters with 89 not out, including the winning runs, a beautifully pulled four off Overton with every fielder on the fence.
As a result, the Champions (who were unbeaten last season) have lost just two of their last 35 four-day matches. Their day got off to a superb start, with Tom Helm cleaning up the final two MCC wickets - Overton bowled and Jack Leach, top-edging a pull. The absence of the injured Liam Plunkett meant Middlesex needed 305 to win, a stiff target even in good batting conditions.
Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson, as so often, got the Champions off to a flyer, with Gubbins cover-driving the first ball of the innings through the covers for four as they shared 43. But Robson’s attacking intent got the better of him as he picked out Alex Lees at mid-on, who took a fine running catch to get the MCC underway, with Leach the bowler.
Gubbins kicked on in the company of Nick Compton - who had been dropped on 0 - and the pair both made half-centuries before falling to the leg spin of Mason Crane. Compton was in a particularly aggressive mood, driving down the ground and through the covers before he too picked out mid-on. By then, Gubbins had been trapped lbw and Dawid Malan bowled by Lewis Gregory, who had a superb game with bat and ball.
Still, Middlesex appeared to be cruising as Stevie Eskinazi - who recorded a duck in the first innings - and Simpson shared a composed 84 to take them within 63 of victory.
Enter Overton. In the twilight period - when batting was at its hardest and the Dukes ball swinging - he and Gregory returned to the attack. After beginning his over with three dot balls to Eskinazi - roughing the young batsman up - he got one to nip back fiercely and pin him on the back pad, with the umpire in no doubt that it was lbw. Then a good length ball left James Franklin and he edged behind for a pair, then a full, straight delivery was too good for James Harris, and Overton wheeled away in celebration of his hat-trick.
Either side of the dinner break Harry Podmore kept Simpson company, hanging around until Crane returned and had him caught behind. Soon enough Helm had been caught at cover, Crane had four and Middlesex had just one wicket standing and still needed five to win.
But Simpson, as cool as ever, waited for the return of Overton and clubbed him through the leg side to complete a famous victory.