I’m going to try to write this one as the game goes along; Saracens, my rugby union team play in their Premiership Semi-Final tomorrow, so a busy writing weekend!
Essex go into this game with a loss away to Hampshire, and Middlesex a loss at home to Surrey. Both will be keen to get a win under their belts.
To be able to write as the game went along I would of course have needed to actually talk my phone with me! It was quite refreshing not to have a screen with me, and I had great company as is generally the case at the sport I watch, but it did set me back writing wise!
Middlesex are a strange team, they seem to perennially underperform, especially when you consider the facilities at their disposal. Steve Eskinazi won the toss for the visitors and elected to put Essex in to bat. As a rule Essex have preferred to chase, but the conditions did Middlesex no favours if the number of potential catches put down were anything to go by.
As someone who’s been calling for Feroze Khushi’s inclusion it was good to see him make his 2nd appearance having opened at Hampshire. Adam Rossington, who I believe is still on loan, rather than permanently signed opened with him. A Mill Hill educated, Middlesex born cricketer he’s played most of his cricket at Northants, but something went awry there for him this season, in spite of signing a new deal in 2021. He has a high score of 85 in T20 cricket and a strike rate of 139.8 and was in the team that won the T20 Blast final win in 2016, with a Northants team that included Ben Duckett and Alex Wakely as captain.
Rossingtion hasn’t had the best of starts in the Blast and this match was no exception, he scored 9 in 13 balls before being caught by Joe Cracknell from the bowling of Martin Andersson. Essex were 13 for 1 in the 4th over, the Power Play didn’t get much better as Michael Pepper whip has enjoyed a good start to the competition went for a 2nd ramp shot in a row to be caught by keeper John Simpson from the bowling of Tom Helm for 9 from 4 balls, Essex were 28 for 2 in the 5th over.
Before that Power Play was done Matt Critchley had also gone he was caught by Middlesex’s Australian signing Chris Green for a disappointing 1 from 4 balls, Andersson was the bowler again. It has to be said here that Middlesex put down a few catches, that may well have been down to the sun.
That was advantage to Middlesex with the score on 39 for 3 after 6 overs. Then along came Paul Walter to join Feroze Khushi, they put 69 on for the 4th wicket in just 6.4 overs. Khushi scofred 67 from 40 balls. He’s been a player I’ve been keen to see in the team and it was great to see him take his chance, having made just 11 against Hampshire.
Tom Westley came in at 6, as he has been doing. That seems a strange spot for him, he’s a top order batter in the County Championship and is hardly known for his hard hitting. He did hit a wonderful 6 over the River End in this innings, but was then out for 16 from 13 balls.
Happily Paul Walter is a hard hitter and he batted on with Simon Harmer who was out for 7 from 5 balls and Shane Snater who also finished not out on 11 from 6 balls. Walter was not out 58 from 35 balls, he hit 7 Fours and a huge Six. All of that added up to 1867 for 6 in 20 overs. A very good response having been in trouble early on.
The Middlesex Power Play went along very similar lines to Essex’s. They found themselves on 42 for 3 in 5.1 overs. Sam Cook, who is loving this T20 season, struck with his 4th ball, bowling captain Steve Eskinazi for 4. Ben Allison followed suit and with his 4th ball took the wicket of Max Holden, who was caught by Matt Critchley for just 1 from his 2 balls.a great start for the Essex bowlers they had Middlesex 10 for 2.
Keeper John Simpson entertained with a quick 20 from 9 balls, he hit a Four and 2 Sixes but was caught by Walter from the bowling of Harmer. That put Middlesex on 42 for 3 in 5.1 overs. I was sat next to a Middlesex fan and he wasn’t feeling hopeful. There were no big innings to come for his team. Joe Cracknell was the top scorer with 29 from 28 balls.
Essex used 7 bowlers, Sam Cook took 3 for 18 in 3 overs and Matt Critchley 3 for 22 in his 4 overs. Tom Westley turned his arm over for 2 overs and took a wicket for 14 runs. Essex bowled Middlesex out for 125 in 18.2 overs. Another home win, they now have a break for a week while a round of the County Championship takes place. Sussex travel to the Cloud County Ground on Friday 17th June, they have 3 wins from their 8 games. Essex now have 4 from 8 and have moved up to 3rd in the table.