Toby Roland-Jones says that Middlesex’s dramatic victory in the County Championship was in the ‘right way’ after he took a hat-trick to win the title.
Roland-Jones took 6-54 in the second innings to finish with 10-127 in the match, finishing the game against Yorkshire by taking a hat-trick to bowl the visitors out for 178 in their second innings.
After some negotiation in the middle, Middlesex smashed 120 in 8.5 overs off Adam Lyth and Alex Lees to set Yorkshire 240 to win in 40 overs. But Roland-Jones had other ideas, as he took six wickets in 12.2 overs whilst Tim Murtagh and Steven Finn claimed two wickets each for Middlesex.
It was the first time since 1993 that James Franklin’s men had won the Championship, and Dawid Malan set up the victory target with 116 after Nick Gubbins fell seven short of his second century of the match.
Steve Eskinazi took advantage of the declaration bowling to finish unbeaten on 78, before Tim Bresnan impressed again with the bat for Yorkshire making 55 from 48 balls alongside 30 from Gary Ballance in a fourth-wicket stand of 50.
Bresnan went on to put on 55 with captain Andrew Gale, who hit 21, but Yorkshire collapsed from 160-5 to 178 all out in three overs, Roland-Jones taking the wickets of Azeem Rafiq, Andy Hodd and Ryan Sidebottom to finish clinch the title for Middlesex.
The seamer explained: “there was a bit of ‘negotiation’ if you like but it’s been such a special game.
“I think for the neutral it’s the right way to do it as both teams are prepared to lose the game and put it all on the line.”
Middlesex’s match-winner, drenched in champagne, was keen to offer his commiserations to Somerset who came just four points from their first Championship title.
The 28-year-old added: “I feel for Somerset, I really do. It’s tough, but in the situation both teams wanted to try and find a way of winning it on what’s been a pretty decent pitch.
“I understand there might be a few hard feelings in Taunton but all three teams have played some great cricket this year. It’s as close as it’s going to get.”
The Middlesex-born pace bowler confessed he didn’t even know he was on a hat-trick but he was more relieved Middlesex had gotten over the line eventually.
He admitted: “I didn’t know it was a hat-trick, to be honest. When it happened, I was just trying to hit the stumps and get those last wickets.
“It’s a very special moment. It hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I ended up at the bottom of the pile in those celebrations out on the field. It was a great feeling. We will celebrate long into the night, although I’m not sure what exactly is going to happen this evening!
“It was pretty tense. When there were six overs left and we needed three or four wickets it was pretty difficult to see a way through, but for it to happen like that was a bit of a blur.
“Then I ended up at the bottom of a big pile and I’m a bit beaten up from it to be honest!
“Whether it’s a hat-trick or whatever it is it’s just an unbelievable feeling to get over the line with this group of lads.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and special performances.”