Somerset 236 & 419/9, Middlesex 381 & 302/8
MIDDLESEX WIN BY 2 WICKETS
John Simpson celebrated his 28th birthday by blasting Middlesex to a sensational two-wicket Specsavers County Championship win against Somerset at Taunton after 96 runs had been needed off the final eight overs.
An enthralling game seemed to be heading for a draw when Tim Groenewald took four wickets to help restrict the visitors to 185 for five, chasing 302 to win.
But Simpson, with 79 not out off 80 balls, including 4 sixes and 5 fours, and James Fuller (36 off 18 balls) produced a stand of 86 off less than eight overs. A Craig Overton over went for 23 and, although Fuller fell, Middlesex wrapped up victory with just two balls to spare.
The winning hit was a six over fine leg by Simpson off Jim Allenby after eight had been needed from the final over. The Middlesex wicketkeeper, who had claimed nine catches in the match, threw both arms in the air in celebration.
Nick Gubbins contributed 76 to the run chase and, although Groenewald finished with five for 90, Middlesex took 23 points to Somerset’s three after four exceptional days of Championship cricket.
Set 302 to win from a minimum of 46 overs, the visitors made a promising start and were 108 for one in the 17th over when Overton took a stunning catch at third man to dismiss Dawid Malan (32).
Gubbins and Malan had produced an array of attacking shots to add 76 for the second wicket. Then Malan got a top edge off Groenewald and Overton made 30 yards running to his left before diving full length to hold the ball two-handed inches off the ground.
Gubbins had faced 70 balls, hitting 9 fours and 2 sixes, when he miscued a back-foot forcing shot off Groenewald to Allenby at deepish extra-cover.
When George Bailey was bowled by a perfect Groenewald inswinger for four it was 155 for four and Middlesex had to think twice about chasing a target of around seven an over.
Allenby cemented Groenewald’s good work with an economic spell from the River End, earning reward when pinning James Franklin lbw for 28.
The departure of the skipper at 185 for five seemed to signal the end of Middlesex victory hopes. But Simpson and Fuller changed all that with an astonishing assault, Fuller hitting 3 sixes and 2 fours in his vital knock.
Leach struck twice in the closing overs to increase the tension, but it was Simpson's day.
Earlier, the hosts had extended their second innings score from an overnight 348 for six to 446 for nine declared, Peter Trego making 138, three short of his best score on his 200th first class appearance.
Groenewald and Jack Leach shared an unbroken tenth-wicket stand of 42, using up valuable time, but it still seemed a generous declaration by Chris Rogers against his old county in excellent batting conditions.
In fact, it produced a wonderful finish and Championship cricket at its best.
Peter Trego fell for 138, three short of his career-best, as Somerset set Middlesex 302 to win in a minimum of 46 overs on the final day of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.
The hosts progressed from an overnight 348 for six to 419 for nine before Chris Rogers declared. Jack Leach (27 not out) and Tim Groenewald (26 not out) shared an unbroken tenth-wicket stand of 42.
Middlesex attacked their target from the outset and had 32 on the board before Sam Robson was caught behind off Groenewald for 22.
By tea the Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan had the visitors well placed at 83 for one, requiring a further 219 from a minimum of 33 overs on a fast-scoring ground in excellent batting conditions.
Somerset again took the field without Jamie Overton, whose lower back injury, sustained on day two, has forced him to pull out of the England Lions squad.
Peter Trego fell for 138, three short of his career-best, as Somerset battled to avoid defeat on the final morning of the Specsavers County Championship match with Middlesex at Taunton.
On his 200th first class appearance, the 35-year-old all-rounder added 23 to his overnight score before top-edging a pull shot off James Fuller and being caught at mid-on.
Alex Barrow had already been dismissed for 21, caught behind off Fuller. Trego’s wicket brought in Jamie Overton, nursing the lower back problem that prevented him bowling yesterday.
Overton was clearly in discomfort as Fuller tested him with some short deliveries and in what would have been the last over before lunch, he edged the former Gloucestershire seamer to give Simpson his ninth catch of the game.
With nine wickets down, that meant a further half hour before the break. Jack Leach and Tim Groenewald negotiated it safely and at lunch Somerset were 419 for nine, leading by 274 with a minimum of 54 overs remaining.