Third time lucky for Essex as Middlesex are Peppered

Brian Jeeves

Essex v Middlesex – Vitality Bast – Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford – Report

Middlesex 203 for seven (20.0 overs)

Essex 207 for six (17.4 overs)

Essex won the toss and elected to bowl

Essex won by four wickets

Essex recorded their first Vitality Blast South Group victory of the season with a big-hitting Michael Pepper starring in a four-wicket triumph over bottom-of-the-table Middlesex at the Cloud County Ground.

Middlesex were thrashed by Kent Spitfires in their opening Blast fixture, staged at Chelmsford on Friday evening, and they soon appeared to be in trouble again as Aaron Beard had skipper Stevie Eskinazi snaffled in the gloves of Adam Rossington in only the second over.

However, the visitors recovered and finished the powerplay on 58 for one. Ryan Higgins and Martin Andersson kept the scoreboard ticking over while Beard and Ben Allison struggled to contain the rate.

Higgins departed for 27 at the end of the eighth over, stumped by Rossington after chasing a delivery from Matt Critchley. Meanwhile, Anderson reached 49 off 31 balls, including five 4s and three 6s, before he was caught by Dean Elgar off the second ball of Luc Benkenstein’s spell.

Paul Walter saw off Joe Cracknell and Josh de Caires within three balls. However, Holden continued to motor, passing fifty off 26. He would go on to score an unbeaten 85* from 42. His innings included eight 4s and five 6s.

Daniel Sams had Jack Davies and Luke Hollman caught by Benkenstein and Allison respectively as the host struggled unsuccessfully to keep the rate under ten per over.

Wicketkeeper Davies brilliantly held on with a divine catch after Rossington edged Tom Helm. Nevertheless, Pepper and Elgar put the powerplay to good use and went on to provide a second-wicket partnership of 83 before Elgar went for 31 off 20, caught by Hollman off de Caires.

Jordan Cox scored a quickfire 22 from eight balls but hooked Higgins to Cracknell, while Paul Walter skied Hollman to Andersson. But by this time, scoring marginally under twelve per over, Essex were well on their way.

Blake Cullen had Critchley caught by de Caries, but Pepper continued to woo the audience. He reached his century from 43 balls in exactly an hour but was trapped lbw by Hollman a delivery later for 101. His masterful innings included ten 4s and six 6s.

Sams hit Noah Cornwell through the covers to confirm Essex’s success. Speaking to Martin Smith from the ECB Reporters Network, Essex centurion Pepper said: “It’s always nice to get a few away early, then I managed to kick on. The pitch felt good and I managed to guess a few where they were going to bowl. I’m glad it came off.”

Essex return to Vitality Blast action on Friday, June 7, when they face Glamorgan at the Cloud County Ground (7pm).

Essex: AM Rossington (WK), D Elgar, MS Pepper, JM Cox, PI Walter, MJJ Critchley, DR Sams, SR Harmer (Capt), LM Benkenstein, BMJ Allison, AP Beard

Middlesex: SS Eskinazi (Capt), MK Andersson, RF Higgins, MDE Holden, JLB Davies (WK), JB Cracknell, LBK Hollman, JM de Caires, TG Helm, BC Cullen, NB Cornwell

Umpires: M Newell and NL Bainton

Scorers: P Parkinson and D K Shelley

Match Referee: PM Such


Brian Jeeves