Half century for Jim can’t prevent Middlesex win

Jim Allenby v Middlesex T20

64 from captain Jim Allenby couldn’t prevent Middlesex from securing a five-wicket win at the Cooepr Associates County Ground.

The hosts were bowled out in 19.3 overs for 136 after winning the toss as Tony Roland-Jones claimed three for 24.

There were two wickets each for James Fuller, Harry Podmore and Nathan Sowter as Middlesex won with five balls to spare.

Somerset were given a good start by Allenby and Mahela Jayawardne, who took the score to 49 at the end of the six-over powerplay.  Jayawardene was eventually caught behind for 18.

Peter Trego departed to his first big hit, caught at long-off to give leg-spinner Sowter his first wicket and, although Allenby moved to a half-century off 38 balls, with seven fours and a six, Somerset lost momentum.  Johann Myburgh did his best to inject some urgency and he hit the only other six of the innings before being caught attempting another.  Tim Rouse’s innings ended on nine when he was bowled by Fuller.  Roelof van der Merwe then failed to clear the short boundary on the town side of the ground and fell to Roland-Jones, who followed up by dismissing Allenby and Lewis Gregory with the fifth and sixth balls of the same over.

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Middlesex openers Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan had added 29 in 3.4 overs when Lewis Gregory took a sharp catch at mid-wicket off van der Merwe to dismiss Gubbins for 13.  Middlesex then got bogged down themselves.  Malan made room only to carelessly slash a catch to deep cover off Josh Davey (two for 28), Somerset’s most impressive bowler.

After ten overs the score was only 54 for two.  George Bailey then fell with the score on 91, caught at deep mid-wicket off Davey, but by then Eoin Morgan was starting to cut loose and he collected another maximum off van der Merwe in the 16th over as Middlesex closed in on victory.  The England batsman was visibly frustrated over being caught at long-off in the 18th over to give Waller a wicket and when James Franklin hit Gregory straight to mid-off with nine needed from eight balls Middlesex hearts beat a little faster.

However, a no-ball awarded against Gregory for too many fielders outside the ring, followed by a Ryan Higgins boundary quickly eased any nerves and a Simpson six off the first ball of the final over settled the outcome.

Straight after the game Jim Allenby said: “It did get quite close in the end, probably closer than it looked with us only making 130 odd when we batted.  I think that it was a tricky pitch to start on and everyone took a few balls to get in.  We just needed one more partnership of 30 or 40 and we would have got up to 160.

“We may have lost too many wickets in clusters and not got those partnerships together for what seems like the 10th or 11th game in a row. Its frustrating to make the same mistakes. We need partnerships and the plan is to have a set partnership number before we look to take risks.  We want one of the top order to bat through which I did okay today, but we didn’t have anybody get a partnership at the same time.”

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Summing up the home NatWest T20 Blast campaign Jim said: “ I think it started very well with enthusiasm and there were a lot of positives but overall I am very disappointed not to make the quarter finals from three games out, which is well below our expectations and what is expected of us and what I expect of us.”

Jim added: “From a team point of view to be out of the competition with two games left is very disappointing.  The reasons for that are many and as we have said, there is a review going on and it will continue because we need to get it right.  It isn’t acceptable to be out of the T20 this early.”