T20 - Middlesex beat Hampshire by 22 runs

Middlesex CCC's T20 squad. PA

Middlesex CCC's T20 squad. PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Middlesex scored an unlikely victory over Hampshire by 22 runs after a momentum shift.

The home side notched 165-8 off their 20 overs before the visitors – well set on 2-89 off 8.3 overs – subsided to 143 all out.

It was a welcome change for Danel Vettori’s side to see another team threw away a victory when in an advantageous position in the Vitality Blast.

However, the only blast anyone welcomed earlier on a baking hot day was the gush of cold air that greeted those on the evocative bronze-coloured escalator at St John’s Wood tube, as visitors escaped the stifling heat below ground in the tube.

Even the touts that infest the area around the entrance looked short of their customary vigour as the hot weather sapped everyone’s energy.

Thankfully the heatwave tempearatures which nudged 35 degrees in the capital on Thursday failed to dent cricket fans’ enthusiasm for T20 cricket.

Everyone that is apart from those misguided administrators who persist in pushing 16.4 over cricket to uninterested masses.

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The near capacity crowd in NW8 against Hampshire should have been enough to persuade the pen-pushers that the domestic season simply does not need another competition – certainly not in an unfathoomable format which no-one cares about, nor asked for.

Grand old Lord’s has seen full houses at Test matches in May against Pakistan, as well as numerous T20 matches this month.

Against London rivals Surrey the attendance was nine tickets short of a sellout.

Even the Seaxes’ rivals Hampshire have played in front of more than 20,000 – when they eclipsed Kent in the 50 over Royal London final at the end of June.

The Home of Cricket has just played host to a thrilling first class match in Division Two of the County Championship as Middlesex beat leaders Warwickshire by 18 runs – a margin fewer than may T20 matches played this month.

Quite simply Enlish cricket does not need infernal 100 ball cricket.

It needs administrators capable enough to realise what they have at the moment is worth cherishing – and worth investing in.

A failure to do so would be no surprise of course.

But to abandon County Cricket, 50 over cricket and T20 for a new ‘best friend’ – one that is vacuous and useless is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.

T20 might not be everyone’s favourite format, certainly this commentator prefers Test matches and the four-day game.

BUt what is undeniable is T20 has improved fieldling standards – albeit not, it seems, among Daniel Vettori’s Middlesex fielders, who produced a couple of howlers when Hampshire batted – introduced innovative shots and intriguing bowling as players have sought to adapt to the format over the past decade and more.

Which is a Good Thing. As is the number of punters it pulls through the gates.

If it was good enough for Ritchie Benaud to hail its many advantages then it should be good enough for mere cricket-loving mortals.

What it doesn’t need is a shorter, unasked for rival to throttle it.

While heated discussions occurred up and down the country – which almost drowned out shock at Adil Rashid’s England Test call-up – a game of T20 cricket broke out after Hampshire skipper James Vince won the toss and elected to bowl on a hot evening.

Middlesex raced to 58 off 6.5 overs before Max Holden was run out.

His opening partner Paul Stirling moved to a fast-paced 60 off 44 balls but once again Daniel Vettori’s side threw away a vaguely promising position as wickets continued to fall at regualr intervals.

Eoin Morgan fell for two runs off four balls, caught by Tom Alsop off Liam Dawson while Nick Gubbins was castled by Edwards for 17 off 15.

Australian Ashton Agar – who should surely have come in ahead of John Simpson – was run out by Dawson for four.

Dwayne Bravo gave produced another entertaining cameo under floddlights, bludgeoning 20 off nine balls before run out by an alert Vince as Tom Helm and Nathan Sowter moved the score onto 165-8 off their full complement of overs.

The visitors from Hampshire were troubled only briefly as Steven Finn took a sharp caught and bowled chance off former Test batsman Vince who departed after scoring four run to leave his side on 4-1.

However, Sam Northeast – who grabbed a dignified half-century on this ground after being scandalously booed by ‘fans’ of his former club Kent last month during Hants victorious Royal London final – moved the score onto 89-2 off 8.3 overs.

Simpson showed good reflexes to stump him off Agar after one that shaped to off.

The momentum of the game swung after Agar enticed Colin Munro to sky one to James Fuller to make the score 97-3 as after he departed for a fine knock of 58 off 29.

Three became four when Agar had Rilee Rossouw – star of the Royal London final with a wonderful century – caught by Stirling for four without a run added.

It was another good bowling effort from Agar who finished with figures of 3-17.

Fuller then had Dawson caught for 14 off 14 balls with the score on 127-5.

One run later Hampshire were six down as McManus was caught by Gubbins off Helm.

Tension increased as Ryan Stevenson was caught of Finn by Morgan for a first ball duck with Hampshire on 132-8 with victory in sight.

Stevenson was then run out for three off three at 142-9 before Fidel Edwards was caugh Agar off Bravo for seven to leave Middlesex the unlikely victors by 22 runs in front of 20,162 spectators.

Who needs 16.4 overs?