Middlesex's D40 went into their final clash of the season on Sunday at Chiswick Cricket Club knowing that victory against Essex would see them qualify for the national semi-finals. Anything else and Essex or even Hampshire could pip them to the post.
Having never beaten Essex in the D40 format, the term bogey side could not be more appropriate, and so it proved again as Essex ran out winners by the margin of 34 runs in what was a disappointing end to a very encouraging season for the team.
After late pitch inspection the game got underway on time with Essex electing to bat. On a difficult batting surface, not helped by the recent varied weather, Essex posted 131 for 9, with Matthew Jones the standout Middlesex bowler with figures of 3 for 26 from 8 overs.
A steady start to the reply saw Middlesex put on 23 for the opening wicket, with no early signs of what was to follow. 23 without loss soon became 60 for 8 and the game was gone! A late order flurry from the tail saw Sam Kumar hit a quickfire 31, although his knock counted for nothing as Middlesex were dismissed for 97.
Essex's victory saw them pip Middlesex to the semi-final spot and once again Middlesex were left ruing missed opportunities and another defeat to Essex.
On the disappointment of defeat and not qualifying for the semi-finals, Middlesex's Disability Head Coach, Michael Wilson, commented...
"I’d like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of this group of players - they all have BIG futures ahead of them!
"The average age of our squad is just 19 years old, with only three players above the age of 25 and four players aged only 16 - what they have achieved is amazing.
"In four of our six games this season we've been missing at least two players on international duty, and we've still been able to get the results we needed to take us to second place in the table right up until the final game.
"In one game we were missing seven players due to England Lions Learning Difficulty (LD) call-ups and England's Physical Disability (PD) side playing on the same day - we still managed to pull together and got the result.
"We're extremely proud that we've had four players join the England Lions LD squad and five players continue in the England Lions PD squad. Out of those players, three have been selected to represent the full England teams in their respective tournaments - James Nordin in England PD's World Series squad and both Martin Henderson and Kester Sainsbury in England LD's squad against Australia in October.
"The future looks bright and our players are another year older and wiser and even more hungry than ever before “