Natwest T20 Blast: Middlesex’s clash with Surrey evokes memories of iconic 2004 game
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This year’s match at Lord’s is a sell-out, like it was 13 years ago
Thursday’s NatWest T20 Blast match between Middlesex and Surrey at Lord’s evokes memories of the day short game came of age in England.
It was at Lord’s, on July 15 2004, that a sell-out crowd of 27,509 watched Surrey beat Middlesex by 37 runs.
And this week a Middlesex spokesman said: “This fixture really captures the imagination. We are sold out again. There will be no tickets on sale on the day of the match, unless we get late returns.”
The remarkable feature of that game 13 years ago is that there was nothing on the game. Middlesex had already failed to qualify for the later stages of the competition, while Surrey were assured of a home tie in the next round, whatever the result.
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And yet — barring cup finals — the turn-out was the biggest for a county match since these two sides met in the championship at the same venue in 1953.
Tickets were sold out several days before the match and the only reason that the ground’s capacity figure of 28,000 was not reached was because the pavilion was not full.
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There were tickets touts outside St John’s Wood tube station.
Surrey captain Adam Hollioake scored a typically pugilistic 65 from 41 deliveries and Mark Ramprakash, a former Middlesex player, played a more composed innings, worth 38 runs.
In reply, Lance Klusener thumped 22 off Hollioake’s opening over, but his side finished well short.
The T20 game had come to county cricket the year before, with many people questioning the format’s future.
But after 2004, and particularly that game at Lord’s, the doubters were routed.
Rain, which had failed to interfere with any game in 2003, washed out three matches a year later.
But average gates were still up by about 1,000, to 5,800.
In their opening T20 fixture of this season season, at Cheltenham, Middlesex recovered from 56-4 and 117-8 to hit 64 off the last 28 balls to match Gloucestershire’s 182 in a nerve-shredding tie.
Ryan Higgins was the hero of the hour with an unbeaten 68, including six sixes.
Middlesex have named a 14-man squad for Thursday’s game, which sees the return of Steve Finn, who missed the Cheltenham game with a back injury, and James Franklin. Surrey, with Tom Curran in outstanding form, have won both their opening games in the competition, with dramatic victories over Essex and Somerset.