Middlesex’s T20 campaign continued to falter tonight as Somerset came to Lord’s, saw the 176 the home side produced batting first, and conquered it easily to win their second game in this year’s Blast.
No matter how quick the outfield is and how small the boundaries are – it’s very quick, and they’re very small – chasing 176, with two full overs to spare is highly impressive; this Somerset outfit has the potential to go far. As for Middlesex, they’ve now lost three Blast games in a row and once again find themselves well off the T20 pace.
After worthy initial contributions from opener Johann Myburgh (46) and the evergreen Peter Trego (32), it was Tom Abell and Corey Anderson who produced the defining partnership in the Somerset run chase, coming together at 92-4 and staying together for 64 runs, which progressively knocked the stuffing out of their opponents.
Anderson, in particular, caught the eye. The New Zealander, who in 2014 hit what was then the fastest ever ODI hundred, showed again today his power and ability to smite sixes at will. His 39 off 24 balls included four monstrous maximums, the sort of shots that really need their own ‘KABOOM’ cartoon noises as they come off the bat.
The home side’s bowling issues revolved around a real lack of control. Their normal banker in that respect, Nathan Sowter, ended up going for 42 runs off his four overs as Anderson stamped on him hard. Dwayne Bravo took two wickets in consecutive balls but was also expensive, and neither Steven Finn or Ashton Agar seemed to have any solutions to stopping the flow of boundaries either.
The fact that Middlesex had earlier reached an even vaguely defendable total, after choosing to bat, was largely down to 19 year old opener Max Holden, who held the innings together in making 84, his highest score yet in this format.
It was really a model innings from a T20 opener – Holden cut loose in the opening 6-over powerplay when presented with short boundaries and no fielders out on them, before moving to a period of quiet accumulation in the middle overs. He then re-ignited the game by blasting fours and sixes to all parts, as he ran out of both time and partners in the closing overs. The 19 year old batted for a few balls with England ODI and T20 skipper Eoin Morgan; many more performances like this and you sense they’ll be spending a lot more time at the crease together.
Despite Holden’s heroics, however, (and a late thrash of 32 off 12 balls from the larger-than-life t20 phenomenon that is Dwayne ‘DJ’ Bravo), Somerset realistically could feel very pleased with their efforts in the field. Restricting Middlesex to 175-5, bearing in mind the Lord’s boundaries had been brought in much more than usual, was hardly a terrible effort, and although the innings did receive some turbo-charged boosting from Bravo and Agar in the closing stages the visitors never looked that troubled when considering the task ahead.
The spin twins of Roelof Van der Merwe and Max Waller were the main protagonists behind the regular fall of Middlesex wickets (they took four of the five wickets to fall), with both showing their experience and nous in this format. Their nagging and persistent lines and lengths meant that all batsmen apart from Holden found it a real struggle to hit boundaries – as a combined concession of 49 from eight overs shows.
In the end, their figures will stand out in bold for Middlesex when the home side look back at where this match was lost. If they end up looking back on the next few games similarly ruefully, they’ll be out of the tournament before too long.