Seventh placed Middlesex head to Richmond Cricket Club in Old Deer Park tomorrow for their last out-ground clash of the summer, where they’ll play their tenth Vitality Blast South Group clash of the season against a Glamorgan side sitting just one place, but five points ahead of them.
In an amazing record-breaking encounter at the Kia Oval last night Middlesex lost their third straight Blast clash despite equalling their highest ever total scored in a T20 innings – matching the 221 they hit against Sussex in 2015. They were undone by a quite incredible batting display from the in-form Aaron Finch and his opening partner Jason Roy, who between them smashed 194 for the first wicket in reply, as the hosts overhauled Middlesex’s record score with twenty-four balls to spare.
On a night where it just didn’t seem to matter where the Middlesex bowlers put the ball, Finch first, then Roy later, despatched the ball at will to all parts of the ground, in a ferocious aerial display of power hitting, that had the majority of the 20,000+ crowd on the edge of their seats, and left Middlesex fans wondering quite what had happened!
At the half way stage of last night’ London derby, Middlesex would have been more than happy with their evening’s work. A brilliant hundred from Paul Stirling (109 off 58 balls), staggeringly the first century for him in the short format of the game, had set their innings up beautifully, allowing James Fuller, pushed up the order, and James Franklin, making his first Blast appearance of the summer, the freedom to finish the job off. Both got on with the task at hand and displaying some powerful hitting of their own Fuller finished with 37 off 19 and Franklin 21 off 8. Job done with the bat!
All hope of a resurgence of Middlesex’s Blast campaign were soon dismissed however, as Finch, especially in the early stages, began his vicious onslaught.
At the end of Surrey’s brutal attack, Fuller had been flayed for 56 from his four overs, Barber 55 from 4, Agar 43 from 4, Patel 43 from 3 and Harris 23 from 1. Surrey had reached their target of 222 in 16 overs, with Finch finishing not out on 117 – hit off just 52 balls, to secure a nine-wicket victory.
Defeat last night all but hammered the nail into the coffin of Middlesex’s 2018 Vitality Blast campaign and left them needing to win all five remaining games as an absolute must,and praying that results, and quite a few of them, go their way elsewhere throughout the remainder of the campaign.
After Middlesex’s loss to Sussex on Thursday at Lord’s, Eoin Morgan hinted at changes for the Oval clash last night, the result of which saw John Simpson dropped behind the stumps in favour of Robbie White, and James Franklin also come into the side for his first T20 appearance of the season.
Both are named again in Middlesex’s fourteen-man squad for tomorrow’s clash with Glamorgan at old Deer Park, as are eleven of the other twelve named in the squad for the Surrey clash.
The only absentee from that squad is Ashton Agar, whose spell with the club has now come to an end, as he leaves Middlesex today having been called up for Australia-A. Steven Finn comes in as his replacement, returning to the side having missed the Surrey clash whilst resting an ongoing problem with his knee.
With everything to play for at Richmond tomorrow, the only result that Middlesex need is a win, so we’re set for an attacking display from Middlesex as they look to pull off the unlikely.
Eoin Morgan (captain)