Eagles back on track after Lord’s triumph

Middlesex v Essex Eagles – Vitality Blast South Group – Lord’s Cricket Ground – Team News

Essex Eagles 161/6 (20.0 overs)

Middlesex 140/8 (20.0 overs)

Middlesex won the toss and elected to bowl

Essex Eagles won by 21 runs

Sam Cook returned figures of three for 23, while both Dan Lawrence and Tom Westley hit half-centuries as Essex Eagles took another step towards Vitality Blast South Group qualification with a 21-run victory over old adversaries, Middlesex at Lord’s.

A combination of the National Rail strike and the home sides’ indifferent form ensured the Home of Cricket was far from full for what is traditionally a sold-out fixture.

Indeed, Middlesex went into the game having won just four of their eleven South Group matches. The dismissal of Feroze Khushi, snaffled in the gloves of John Simpson off an edged delivery from Toby Greatwood, perhaps suggested a change of fortune. 

Adam Rossington and Michael Pepper put together 28 for the second wicket before the former was set back on 19, trapped lbw, by a delivery that kept low from Jason Behrendorff. Pepper followed for 26 – caught on the rope by Martin Andersson to hand Thilan Walallawita a wicket – leaving Essex 60 for three by in the middle of the seventh over.

Paul Walter was unable to replicate his recent form with the bat. Walallawita showed a safe pair of hands off the fourth ball of Chris Green’s first over. 

Returning to the side for the first time in a month following a troublesome hamstring injury, Lawrence made up for lost time, scoring 51 off 34 balls before Green claimed his second wicket. His fifth-wicket stand with Westley gleaned 84 runs. 

Westley’s fifty came about in the final over, just before he was stumped by Simpson off Green. However, in no small part, Green’s three-over spell had overseen the dismissal of three Essex batters for just sixteen runs. Middlesex set a seemingly modest target of 162 for victory.

But the home side came up short again. Cook swiftly got to work. Simon Harmer took a catch at first slip to remove Max Holden off his first delivery. And it was two from three when he snaffled Joe Cracknell off his own bowling. Incredibly, it became a three-wicket maiden for Cook. Lawrence with a spectacular flying catch to leave Middlesex reeling on 9/3 at the end of the third over – Simpson the bemused batter, returning to the pavilion without scoring.

The power-play had contrived just 29 just. The run rate, woefully short. 

Skipper, Stevie Eskinazi and Jack Davies provided some resistance, putting together 86 for the fourth wicket. 

Aaron Beard broke the partnership, thanks to another wonderful catch, this time from Cook. Eskinazi, gone for 43 off 38 balls. Beard quickly repeated the dose – Harmer displaying a safe pair of hands to repel Green. Middlesex’s resistance was broken. 

Harmer didn’t require a second invitation to get in on the act. Walter doing the honours at long-off to conclude Davies’s innings on 41. The Essex skipper then claimed Holman, caught and bowled, as the precession continued.

Walallawita towered Daniel Sams to Westley. Middlesex eight down – London cabbies on standby as the home crowd began to file towards the exits.

Three successive sixes from Behrendorff sent Middlesex into the final over requiring 28. Cook oversaw proceedings, finishing what he had started to keep Essex on course for the quarter-finals.

Essex Eagles return to Vitality Blast South Group action on Friday, June 24 when Surrey visits the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford (7pm).

Middlesex: SS Eskinazi (Capt), MDE Holden, JB Cracknell, JA Simpson (WK), JLB Davies, LBK Hollman, CJ Green, MK Andersson, TN Walallawita, JP Behrendorff, TL Greatwood

Essex Eagles: FIN Khushi, AM Rossington (WK), MS Pepper, DW Lawrence, T Westley, PI Walter, DR Sams, SR Harmer (Capt), AP Beard, BMJ Allison, SJ Cook

Umpires: CM Watts and NA Mallender

Scorers: D K Shelley and AE Choat

Match Referee: Alec Swann

Brian Jeeves

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