Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Cox And Clarke On Losing Side As Middlesex Win Thriller In Abu Dhabi

Cox And Clarke On Losing Side As Middlesex Win Thriller In Abu Dhabi

Ben Cox and Joe Clarke ended on the losing side as Champion County Middlesex edged out the MCC by one wicket in a thrilling finale to the day-night contest in Abu Dhabi.

A see saw final day, which included a hat-trick from Craig Overton, ended when John Simpson pulled the same bowler for four – with every fielder on the fence – as Middlesex chased down a 306 target.

Middlesex were 107-1 and then 242-4 – the point at which Overton delivered his one, two, three blast – before Simpson kept his cool to finish unbeaten on 89 from 104 balls with one six and seven fours.

Worcestershire keeper-batsman Cox again showed his prowess behind the stumps holding onto chances offered by James Franklin (0) and Harry Podmore (7) off Overton and Mason Crane respectively.

He finished the game with five catches to add to contributions of 40 and 17 with the bat while New Road team-mate Clarke top-scored with 89 in the MCC first innings.

But Middlesex clawed their way back into the game after conceding a first innings deficit of 153.

As a result, the County Champions – who were unbeaten in the competition last season – have lost just two of their last 35 four-day matches.

Their day got off to a superb start, with Tom Helm cleaning up the final two MCC wickets – Overton bowled and Jack Leach, top-edging a pull.

MCC were again without the injured Liam Plunkett as Nick Gubbins (52),Nick Compton (59) and Stevie Eskinazi (44) put Middlesex in control.

Enter Overton in the twilight period – when batting was at its hardest and the Dukes ball swinging. After beginning his over with three dot balls to Eskinazi, he got one to nip back fiercely and pin him on the back pad lbw.

Then a good length ball left James Franklin and he edged to Cox to complete a pair and a full, straight delivery was too good for James Harris as Overton wheeled away in celebration of his hat-trick.

But Simpson kept his nerve and was in partnership with Ravi Patel when he struck the decisive boundary.