v Champion County Match 26-29 Mar

Match Report Others 26 March 2017


MCC vs Middlesex – Champion County Match

MCC 332 all out

Middlesex 9 for 1

Day One Report

A classy knock of 89 from Worcestershire batsman Joe Clarke helped the MCC forge a strong position on the opening day of the Champion County match against Middlesex at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. 

In the first outing of the pink Dukes ball that will be used in the first day/night Test match in England, against West Indies in August, the contest between bat and ball proved even and compelling as the MCC, having won the toss and elected to bat, were all out for 332 late in the day. 

In response, Middlesex reached stumps - which arrived at 9.17pm - on 9-1. Sam Robson edged the first ball of the innings wide of fourth slip for four, but by the end of the over had nicked Lewis Gregory to third slip. Nick Gubbins, who survived a huge lbw appeal first ball from Craig Overton, and the nightwatchman Tom Helm, negotiated the remaining three overs unscathed.

MCC’s day got off to a tricky start, as Adam Lyth - called into the side to replace the injured captain Sam Northeast - and Tom Alsop fell in consecutive overs to the new ball. Lyth was trapped lbw not offering a stroke to a swinging delivery from the highly-rated Helm, while Alsop also fell lbw, the first of three victims for James Harris, who last year played in this fixture for MCC against Yorkshire.

That brought MCC captain Alex Lees and England batsman Ben Duckett together, and they shared a sprightly stand of 109 in 22 overs, full of attacking strokes, before both fell to the left-arm spin of Ravi Patel either side of lunch. Lees was caught down the legside by wicketkeeper John Simpson just before the break, while Duckett - who played fluently for his 69 from 88 balls, which included seven boundaries - was trapped lbw on the back-foot by a sharp-turning delivery. 

 As the ball softened and the spinners bedded in, Clarke and his Worcestershire colleague Ben Cox put on 81 before the latter was pinned in front by Harry Podmore, who was selected ahead of James Fuller with Toby Roland-Jones and Steven Finn rested and Tim Murtagh away on international duty with Ireland.

 Clarke ploughed on after the dinner break and into the evening session, cover-driving Patel beautifully in a stand of 69 with Gregory, who was caught at first slip off the left-arm spinner as the new ball approached. In the first over of the new ball - which swung under lights, Clarke fell lbw to the excellent Harris, who had Liam Plunkett caught at deep square-leg shortly after.

Podmore had Jack Leach caught well down the legside by Simpson then, with the first ball of a new spell, Helm picked up his second wicket, with Overton plumb in front as MCC were all out for 332.



MCC vs Middlesex – Champion County Match




Day Two Report

Somerset's Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton starred with bat and ball as the MCC continued their impressive showing in the Champion County game in Abu Dhabi, even though their fast bowling colleague Liam Plunkett sat out the day with a sore calf. In all, 16 wickets fell on the second day, which MCC closed seven down in their second innings with a lead of 298 runs.

Gregory, who had dismissed Sam Robson on the first evening, and Overton took four wickets each on the second day, while their Somerset colleague Jack Leach completed a ten-wicket sweep for the Cidermen.

As on the opening day, wickets fell in clusters as the ball swung extravagantly for periods of the day. After the introduction of Leach did for the nightwatchman, Tom Helm, Gregory produced an inspired spell to take three wickets in eight balls during the afternoon session.

Finding beautiful shape away from the right-handers, Gregory bowled Nick Compton and had Stevie Eskinazi caught behind for a duck either side of Nick Gubbins top-edging a pull straight to the man at midwicket. That left the champions sat perilously on 68-5. 

Middlesex’s left-handers Dawid Malan and John Simpson bedded in as batting became easier, putting on a vital stand of 98 to steady the ship. But a superb over, this time from Craig Overton, saw Malan trapped lbw - to a ball that stayed a touch low - and captain James Franklin seen off by a lifting brute to just his second ball. 

Before long, Gregory had returned to pick up his fifth wicket, Simpson caught well down the legside by wicketkeeper Ben Cox, then Overton finished the innings with two wickets in two balls - Harry Podmore caught at midwicket and Ravi Patel bowled all ends up. With a lead of 153, Alex Lees, the MCC captain, opted not to enforce the follow-on, in part because of the injury to Plunkett - who will sit out the rest of the match as a precaution.

MCC got off to a flyer in their second innings as Adam Lyth took three fours from Podmore’s first over. But Podmore had his revenge, though, with Lees and Tom Alsop trapped leg before in the space of three balls, the latter recording a pair.

James Harris was soon in on the act, picking up on an encouraging first innings performance, taking a classy diving caught and bowled to get rid of Ben Duckett, then bowling Joe Clarke. Podmore had a third when Ben Cox was trapped lbw.

Lyth kicked on in the company of Gregory before being caught well caught in the deep by Helm off Patel, who Overton then smote for three sixes down the ground.

MCC vs Middlesex – Champion County Match

MCC 332 & 151

MIDDLESEX 179 & 306 FOR 9


Day Three Report

A brilliant hat-trick from Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton was not enough for the MCC as Middlesex chased down 305 by one wickets to win a thrilling Champion County game in Abu Dhabi with a day to spare. 

John Simpson, the scourge of Somerset in the past, played the decisive innings, navigating choppy waters with 89 not out, including the winning runs, a beautifully pulled four off Overton with every fielder on the fence.

As a result, the Champions (who were unbeaten last season) have lost just two of their last 35 four-day matches. Their day got off to a superb start, with Tom Helm cleaning up the final two MCC wickets - Overton bowled and Jack Leach, top-edging a pull. The absence of the injured Liam Plunkett meant Middlesex needed 305 to win, a stiff target even in good batting conditions. 

Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson, as so often, got the Champions off to a flyer, with Gubbins  cover-driving the first ball of the innings through the covers for four as they shared 43. But Robson’s attacking intent got the better of him as he picked out Alex Lees at mid-on, who took a fine running catch to get the MCC underway, with Leach the bowler.

Gubbins kicked on in the company of Nick Compton - who had been dropped on 0 - and the pair both made half-centuries before falling to the leg spin of Mason Crane. Compton was in a particularly aggressive mood, driving down the ground and through the covers before he too picked out mid-on. By then, Gubbins had been trapped lbw and Dawid Malan bowled by Lewis Gregory, who had a superb game with bat and ball. 

Still, Middlesex appeared to be cruising as Stevie Eskinazi - who recorded a duck in the first innings - and Simpson shared a composed 84 to take them within 63 of victory. 

Enter Overton. In the twilight period - when batting was at its hardest and the Dukes ball swinging - he and Gregory returned to the attack. After beginning his over with three dot balls to Eskinazi - roughing the young batsman up - he got one to nip back fiercely and pin him on the back pad, with the umpire in no doubt that it was lbw. Then a good length ball left James Franklin and he edged behind for a pair, then a full, straight delivery was too good for James Harris, and Overton wheeled away in celebration of his hat-trick.

Either side of the dinner break Harry Podmore kept Simpson company, hanging around until Crane returned and had him caught behind. Soon enough Helm had been caught at cover, Crane had four and Middlesex had just one wicket standing and still needed five to win. 

But Simpson, as cool as ever, waited for the return of Overton and clubbed him through the legside to complete a famous victory.

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