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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 (over 20.0)

Middlesex 140/8 (over 20.0)

Middlesex won the coin toss and opted to go bowling

The Essex Eagles won by 21 points

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

A combination of the National Rail strike and indifferent form from local teams meant the Home of Cricket was far from full for what is traditionally a sold-out game.

Indeed, Middlesex entered the game having won just four of their eleven Group South matches. The sacking of Feroze Khushi, caught in John Simpson’s gloves by a sharp delivery from Toby Greatwood, may have suggested a change in fortunes.

Adam Rossington and Michael Pepper put together 28 for the second wicket before the former was held up on 19, lbw trapped, by a delivery that remained weak from Jason Behrendorff. Pepper followed for 26 – caught on the rope by Martin Andersson to give Thilan Walallawita a wicket – leaving Essex 60 for three par midway through the seventh.

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

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

Westley’s fifty came in the final, just before he was stumped by Simpson off Green. However, in large part, Green’s three-of-three spell had overseen Essex’s dismissal of three batters for just sixteen runs. Middlesex set a seemingly modest target of 162 for victory.

But the home team again missed out. Cook quickly got to work. Simon Harmer took a hold on the first slip to pull Max Holden off his first delivery. And it was two out of three when he snatched Joe Cracknell from his own bowling alley. Incredibly, he became a three-wicket maiden for Cook. Lawrence with a spectacular flying catch to leave Middlesex shocked 9/3 at the end of third over – Simpson the bewildered batter, heading back to the clubhouse without scoring.

The power play had come up with just 29 just. The execution rate, terribly short.

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

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

Harmer didn’t need a second invitation to get in on the act. Walter does the honors halfway through to wrap up Davies’ innings on the 41st. The Essex skipper then claimed Holman, caught and tossed, as the precession continued.

Walallawita dominated Daniel Sams at Westley. Middlesex eight down – London taxi drivers on standby as local crowds began to head for the exits.

Three successive Behrendorff sixes sent Middlesex through to the final demanding 28. Cook oversaw the proceedings, completing what he had started to keep Essex on course for the quarter-finals.

The Essex Eagles return to Vitality Blast South Group action on Friday June 24 when Surrey visit 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

Referees: CM Watts and NA Mallender

Scorers: DK Shelley and AE Choat

Match referee: Alec Swann