Having worked out that the match I’d planned to watch with my friend Alun was actually in Mansfield rather than Trent Bridge, we booked to go to Radlett to watch Kent (a team I have a soft spot for) against Middlesex (a team Alun has a soft spot for): my second visit in 4 days. It was a perfect venue as we’d spent the Saturday watching Saracens win the Premiership Rugby semi-final down the road at Allianz Park.
I learnt my lesson from the trip to watch Essex and we arrived nice and early to get ‘front row’ seats, you can be the judge, but it was a good spot for photos as well as for the sun!
Middlesex won the toss and elected to bat, that hadn’t worked too well against Essex, but things went rather better for Middlesex as Ireland international Paul Stirling showed what he could do with the bat. Kent didn’t take a wicket until the 9th over when Matt Henry, who’s taken 37 wickets in 4 County Championship games had Nick Gubbins caught by Adam Rouse for 23 and Middlesex were 63 for 1.
Stevie Eskinazi joined Stirling and the pair put on 102, it was hard to see where a wicket was going to come from. Joe Denly, who I don’t think I’ve seen bowl before had Eskinazi caught by Henry for 31. There wasn’t too much respite for kent however as Eoin Morgan came to the crease. he and Stirling put on something of a batting masterclass as Stirling moved to and past his century.
It took the veteran Kent man Darren Stevens to dismiss Stirling, he made 125, hitting 13 Fours and 5 Sixes, it was entertaining to say the least. And the reason there are so many photos of Paul Stirling!
With Stirling and Morgan hitting the ball it looked like Middlesex were on for a very big score, we were predicting at least 350. However the Kent bowlers pulled things back. With Henry and Denly taking another wicket each before Calum Haggett, who’d started with a couple of nightmare overs, clean bowled Morgan just after he’d reached his half century.
Calum Haggett then took a further 2 wickets in his next 2 overs and Middlesex were 277 for 8 having been 240 for 3. A cameo role by James Franklin, who finished on 29 not out, helped Middlesex to 313 for 9 in their 50 overs.
Daniel Bell-Drummond had scored 90 of Kent’s 188 runs in their loss to Sussex in their first Royal London One Day Cup match. He opened the batting with Zac Crawley, who’d been causing us a conundrum while he fielded on the boundary as we tried to decide if he really was 6ft 5. I’m of the opinion that heights are over estimated in the Playfair Annual, although Steven Finn really does look a huge 6ft 7 and an important half.
Tom Helm struck early for Middlesex taking the wickets of both Crawley and Joe Denly and Kent were 44 for 2 in the 7th over. Daniel Bell-Drummond is a lovely batsman to watch and he looked to be on for a big score again, but James Franklin had him caught behind by John Simpson on 44. Heino Kuhn was at the crease, he opened for South Africa in England last summer, playing all 4 tests, he got his top score of 34 in their win at Trent Bridge. I saw every test and he didn’t have the best time, so I was pleased to see him bat with some style at Radlett.
Kuhn batted through Kent losing the wickets of Alex Blake, Darren Stevens and Adam Rouse and looked well set batting with Calum Haggett, they’d built a good partnership of 71 before a very unnecessary run out saw a dejected Hagget walking back to the pavilion.
Kent were 230 for 7 in the 41st over, the win wasn’t out of the question. Step up Tom Helm for Middlesex, he bowled Kuhn on 90 made from 92 balls including 6 Fours and 2 Sixes, it’s always a shame when a batsman just misses out on his century.
Matt Henry was next to go, caught and bowled by Nathan Sowter who finished off the Kent innings as he had Imran Qayyum caught by Stevie Eskinazi, that all added up to a 70 run win for Middlesex.
It was lovely spending 2 days at Radlett, it’s given me a desire to see as many outgrounds as I can next summer, there’s something special about the tranquility of a ground set amongst trees, in spite of trains running in this case.