Oh the absolute joy of being able to go to the County Ground and choose where to sit! I’d applied for every day possible but only been successful for the T20 match against Sussex. I travelled up to Derby to watch my first County Cricket for nearly 2 years only to find the match was abandoned. I had a lovely day all the same, but I could have cried when it was confirmed I’d see no play.

I was a very happy Essex member as I took my seat in the Hayes Close end, behind the bowlers arm is my preferred option. I can recall going to watch a game many years ago with my then husband, we sat mid-wicket and I can honestly say that more often than not, I had no idea where the ball was!

Middlesex captain Peter Handscomb (of Australia fame) had scored 75 from 71 balls and shared a partnership of 130 with Robbie White who scored 55 from 71 balls in MIddlesex’s first game against Durham. They scored 225 for 9 in the 36 overs possible, but lost by 2 runs via the DLS method. MIddlesex’s County Championship season so far saw them win just 2 of the 10 games they played. Essex only won 3 of their 10, but started with a win against Hampshire in this competition.

Shane Snater took 3 for 45 in his 8.4 overs.

Tom Westley won the toss for Essex and put Middlesex in to bat. Sam Robson and Max Holden opened the batting, Jamie Porter and Shane Snater opened the bowling. A couple of wide balls from Snater went to the boundary, courtesy of Robson, but he then nicked the 4th ball to Adam Wheater, he was gone for 18 and Middlesex were 19 for 1. 21 year old Joe Cracknell was making his List A debut, it was a debut that lasted only 6 balls as he too fell victim to Snater, trapped LBW for 4.

Captain Handscomb was next in, he was also next out, a wicket for Jamie Porter, he’d faced 13 balls, scored 4 and was caught by Alastair Cook. Middlesex had fallen to 31 for 3. Max Holden batting with Robbie White helped put on 49, he made 36 from 37 balls. Simon Harmer had come into the bowling attack and shipped 14 runs from his first over, but, after that first over normal service was resumed. He took the wicket of Holden, seeing a great catch by Tom Westley, it had looked like disaster might strike as Westley and Paul Walter looked to be going for the ball and each other, but they avoided each other and the ball was caught.

That wicket brought another List A debutant in, 21 year old Jack Davies, born in Reading Davies was signed by MIddlesex in 2018 on a 2 year contract, he came to the club via their partnership with Berkshire Cricket. He helped Berkshire win the Minor Counties Championship in 2017 scoring an unbeaten 127 at the age of just 17.

Robbie White scored 47 from 80 balls

Robbie White shared another good partnership, with Davies, of 67, eventually being trapped LBW by Paul Walter. Walter had taken over from Jamie Porter who had to retire 2 balls into his 10th over with what looked like a side strain and bowled a few loose balls, in fact from what I can recall he had to bowl at least 8 balls in one over. But, he despatched White for 47 from 80 balls.

Davies then showed great maturity as he shepherded the lower order through as many overs as he could. The remaining 5 batters scored just 19 runs, Davies scored 70 before a quite brilliant catch for Ryan ten Doeschate whi’d also bowled the ball. Davies scored 70 from 81 balls, batting for 86 minutes. A name to keep an eye on for sure. I make no apologies for so many photos of this young batter, I very much enjoyed his innings! (oh, and he’s a keeper too!)

Middlesex were bowled out in 45.4 overs for 212. Essex had scored 275 in their win against Hampshire, winning the game in 44.3 overs. Alastair Cook averaged just 27.53 in Essex’s first ’round’ of the County Championship and faced only 5 balls for his 4 runs against Hampshire. It’s fair to say he needed an innings. Happily for the Essex members in the crowd he played a pretty much faultless innings.

His fellow openers Will Buttleman looked good for his 23, hitting 4 Fours before being caught by Robson from the bowling of Ethan Bamber. Essex were 54 for 1 after 8.5 overs.

Over the next 30.1 overs we were treated to something of a batting masterclass as both Cook and his captain enjoyed their time in the middle. With Sir A closing in on a Century, it was funny to hear the home crowd gently booing Tom Westley as he took the score to the point where that century couldn’t be achieved. Photos galore of both players here as Cook scored 92 from 11 balls and Westley, who nearly overtook him, scored 87 from 97 balls, The game was won in 39 overs for the loss of just one wicket.

A Sir Alastair Gallery first!

Uo next Tom Westley!

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