Middlesex showing signs of new life
Not too many of these
April 22 2019
Hackneyshire reports on a good cricketing day for Middlesex mingled with a joke contest and the poignancy of events in Sri Lanka. Perspective is everything.
Easter Sunday, perfect timing for a trip to Lord’s, what with it being his day and all. We were blessed with glorious sunshine and crowds were streaming down to cricket’s cathedral as we arrived at St. John’s Wood. Not for the first time, we wondered what the ECB were thinking of by downgrading the only 50 over competition we have next season to a development competition: it is popular (when the ECB allows it to be played on days when people aren’t working), it produces some cracking games and players get to take part in a format that mirrors the premier tournament in word cricket.
But enough of the idiocy of the ECB. Back at Lord’s Middlesex had won the toss and put Gloucestershire in. Due to going to meet latecomers I managed to miss Gloucestershire’s first wicket, Hankins who was out lbw to Murtagh. When I returned Barmy Kev said it was plumb while the assembled Gloucestershire contingent suggested the opposite. The casting vote went to our resident Somerset fan who said that the ball was clearly missing the stumps. A shocker of a decision then.
The remaining opener, Chris Dent, and Gareth Roderick were aided in rebuilding by Middlesex, with first Malan dropping Gloucestershire captain Dent and then some comedic fielding including Murtagh diving over the ball in an impression of Joe Hart. Gloucestershire made it to 76, at which point the jinx was played by Dave, “we’re going along nicely here.” Almost immediately Dent top edged an attempted pull off Toby Roland-Jones to long leg and he was caught by Tom Helm for 47. It was a shot that was to become characteristic of the Gloucestershire innings, but first James Bracey arrived at the crease for his white ball debut. Bracey showed last season that he enjoyed playing at Lord’s, scoring an unbeaten century in the County Championship to help save the game for Gloucestershire, and there was more of the same to come with an innings that showed the youngster has a clear aptitude for shorter form cricket.
At the other end Roderick reached 38 before being caught behind off Paul Stirling; like Dent making a good start but failing to capitalise. Howell joined Bracey in the middle in what would become the pivotal partnership of the Gloucestershire innings. Bracey took the lead, hitting four sixes, each signalled from the Upper Edrich by Glos fan “Roger Radio”, the last of which got him to 50, the partnership to 50 and Gloucestershire’s score to 150. This was a moment of celebration for the Gloucestershire supporters, although Kev took time out of his pun-off with Dave to reprimand us for failing to stand up and clap and sit down three times, once for each concurrent milestone.
Gloucestershire continued to build well, reaching 200 at a run a ball. What was particularly remarkable was that, at this point, Middlesex had conceded no extras. Kev pointed out that last season extras had been so frequent that fans had suggested they should get an England call-up. Not so, this. The first, a leg bye, was conceded in the 35th over and then in the 36th Bracey holed out to Scott at deep cover off Murtagh for 83 – with the partnership on a Nelson - and with that Gloucestershire began to falter. Howell reached his 50 in the 40th over but was then caught by Simpson down the legside off Toby Roland-Jones. What had looked like being an excellent score for Gloucestershire fizzled out, with Jack Taylor and Higgins departing for 9 and 17 respectively and, despite a last over 6 by Worrall, the visitors could only manage 283.
Middlesex started their chase well, with Stirling hitting 23 off 20 balls, including two sixes, before playing at a wide ball Matt Taylor ball and getting caught behind. His dismissal sparked a flurry of wickets, with Simpson caught and bowled by Worrall for a duck and then Malan caught by Hankins at short cover, also off Worrall. At 36/3 Gloucestershire were right back in it but Middlesex had other ideas. Morgan and Eskinazi put on 50 and took the score to over 100 before Morgan was caught behind off Liddle. Gloucestershire’s brief hopes were, however, to be crucified by Nick Gubbins, who had staged a remarkable resurrection after an injury in the field earlier.
Off the pitch a joke competition was ongoing, with entries from Middlesex (Kev), Gloucestershire (Dave and Tim) and Somerset (Ian). The returnees from the pub (Ronnie and Bob) declared Ian the winner with:
“My wife and I went on holiday to north Wales.
“Don’t be so rude!”
A Somerset victory then, later (just) replicated in south Wales, but for Gloucestershire the chance of a win continued to fade as Gibbins and Eskinazi ran riot, the latter reaching a century in the 40th over, with the 150 partnership following almost immediately. Gubbins almost reached a century himself but the hosts got over the line in the 43rd over, when he was on 98. In the end it was a comprehensive victory but ultimately it was fantastic to watch cricket in the sun, with a good crowd turning out. If only the ECB elite had been there…
Addendum: One of the reasons we were at Lord’s with the fantastic MTWD crowd was because of a chance meeting 18 years ago in the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. It was there that Ian and I first met Kev, Posh Margaret and another Gloucestershire fan, also in attendance, Simon and we’ve been friends ever since. Yesterday’s game coincided with attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka and it was impossible not to think of that wonderful country and its people during the day and to extend deepest sympathies with all affected.pqs: qs:
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:04:24:11:32:19 by BarmierKev.