MATCH REPORT - VITALITY BLAST - ESSEX EAGLES V MIDDLESEX
Middlesex 184 for 5 - 20 overs
Essex 10 for 0 - 1.3 overs
Game abandoned due to heavy rain - No Result
Max Holden made sure Middlesex didn’t miss their 2019 batting stars to club his maiden T20 hundred but rain thwarted a result against Vitality Blast holders Essex Eagles.
Middlesex had lost four of their top five run-scorers from last season’s run to the quarter-finals, but Holden struck a 60-ball 102 to create a new hero.
That set Essex 185 to win, but only nine balls of the reply were possible before forecast rain saw the match abandoned.
While Middlesex were much-changed from 2019, Essex could call on eight of the side which famously defeated Worcestershire Rapids at Edgbaston last September.
Simon Harmer won the toss and elected to bowl first, but conceded 18 runs off the first over as Steve Eskinazi took Aaron Beard apart with three boundaries through cover before a maximum over mid-wicket.
Matt Quinn took his revenge for team-mate Beard when Eskinazi skied him to Harmer, with Martin Andersson run out after being turned back soon after.
That brought Holden and Nick Gubbins together, and for eight overs they dominated with a 71-run stand.
Holden was lucky to survive a stumping chance off Dan Lawrence and a Shane Snater drop at long-off, on two and 27 respectively.
But moved through the gears as if he was Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone, most notably with a driven push extra-cover, before taking a liking to Harmer.
Firstly, Holden struck back over the South African’s head and into the sightscreen, then slog-swept him into the vacant stands.
With AB de Villiers, Dawid Malan, Paul Stirling and Eoin Morgan dominating last year, Holden had been restricted to a single match. He cashed in on a rare appearance here with a 35-ball fifty.
Gubbins (23) had provided a run-a-ball glue before he was caught flicking to Lawrence at backwards square-leg, before Dan Lincoln and John Simpson were each caught at long-on trying to accelerate.
But that didn’t halt Holden, who took Harmer for another straight six, with his three figures arriving with an all-along-the-floor cover drive - only 24 balls after he had last raised his bat.
His previous highest score in seven Blast matches had been 84 against Somerset in his sophomore appearance.
After an elongated mid-innings break, Varun Chopra and Cameron Delport scored 10 runs in nine balls, with Miguel Cummins delivering his first Blast over, before the rain fell.
A re-calculated challenge of 156 from 16 was handed to Essex, as the ground staff played the hokey-cokey with the cover around the showers.
The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford’s floodlights, erected over the winter, illuminated for the first time on a matchday but only highlighted the glint on the covers when the match was finally cut off at 4.45pm, for a point-a-piece.
Match Report provided by ECB Reporters Network