This entertaining match on a warm summer’s night at Lords arguably epitomised why both Middlesex and Hampshire are struggling in the lower reaches of the southern section of the Vitality Blast T20.
Both sides squandered huge chances to score big and it became something of a comedy of errors as both did their very best to lose the match. In the end, Middlesex just about held their nerve and came through to win, having lost their previous four matches in this competition. As a result, Hampshire replace them at the foot of the table and it comes as no real surprise on this evidence.
Heroes and villains abounded on both sides, with dropped catches, needless and careless run outs contributing to both sides’ batting downfalls.
Middlesex were indebted once again to their Irish opening batsman, Paul Sterling, who yet again flayed the ball to all parts in a very entertaining 60 off 44 balls.. However, with the job only half done, he was dismissed, just when his side really needed him to go on.
Middlesex’s other Irishman, England captain Eoin Morgan, yet again failed for his adopted county and so they relied upon a few hefty late blows from Dwayne Bravo and Tom Helm to give the scoreboard some respectability.
At the half way stage, it very much felt as though Middlesex were well below par and, with the likes of the in form James Vince striding to the crease to open the Hampshire batting, even the most optimistic of the home faithful would have felt that their side were staring down the barrel.
Yet cricket always has the ability to surprise. In only the first over, Vince decided to try and pull former England quickie Steve Finn into the Tavern but the big man’s extra bounce did for him and he only succeeded in looping the ball back to the bowler. Advantage Middlesex, the bookies odds quickly recalculated, but swiftly amended as both Sam Northeast and Colin Munro particularly, brutally launched into the Londoners.
Northeast was then needlessly stumped yet the alarm bells for Hampshire really started ringing when Munro inexplicably hoisted Agar straight to mid on having scored 58 in no time. When Rilee Roussouw’s attempted sweep off the following delivery was snaffled by Simpson behind the stumps, they became deafening.
Middlesex’s Australian, Ashton Agar took 3-17 off his 4 overs, his best T20 return. Hampshire had committed collective suicide, Monro should have been ‘murdered’ by his coaches in the dressing room in the aftermath of this defeat. His team only needed 7 an over off the final 10 overs and were set fair, it was surely a fait a compli. Nudges and nurdles would have seen them home, no need for extravagance and audaciousness.
Yet a side without confidence panics, it has no patience, pre-planned principles pushed to one side when on the pitch. Middlesex sensed their opponents fragility and Hampshire succumbed with barely a whimper, losing their last 9 wickets for only 54 runs and handing over victory to their hosts in the process, Finn finishing with 3 wickets too.
Hari kari from Hampshire, much relief for Middlesex.