Robson leads Middlesex to Vitality Blast win at Essex
- Credit: PA
Sam Robson put a rare showcase of his Vitality Blast skills as Middlesex beat Essex Eagles by nine runs at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.
Test capped Robson, known for his red-ball talents, was only playing his seventh T20 match but showed off his repertoire with 60, as Middlesex struck 169 for five in blistering heat.
Afghanistan international Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s cheap two for 18 put the stoppers on a promising start to the chase before Steven Finn (3-25) and Blake Cullen (2-26) took late wickets to make sure of the victory.
It made sure Middlesex avoided the South Group wooden spoon to claim their fourth victory of the Blast, while condemning Essex to their eighth defeat – although this fixture was already a dead rubber with both out.
Having chosen to bat, Robson had previously only played four games in 2011 and twice this season, scoring just 69 runs, but his inexperience in the format didn’t show.
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His opening partner Max Holden nicked off first ball but Robson and Joe Cracknell kickstarted the innings with a stand of 59 for the second wicket.
Cracknell pulled to deep midwicket as Robson glided past his highest score of 28 and to his maiden format half-century.
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He reached fifty, in 40 deliveries, with a six straight back over Simon Harmer’s head before following it up two balls later by dispatching over wide long-on.
Robson fell for 60 when he holed out to long-on, to give Aron Nijjar a wicket to go alongside a miserly four overs going for 20.
John Simpson and Daryl Mitchell totted the score along, adding 24 and 43 before being stumped and paddling to short fine leg respectively.
Eagles were on top of the chase at the halfway mark having reached 88 for two.
Adam Wheater slogged out to deep midwicket but Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence confidently and comfortably struck a 50-run partnership from 29 balls.
But wickets, and a run scrooge, in the 11th and 12th overs tilted the balance towards the visitors – as Westley was bowled by Luke Hollman and the impeccable Mujeeb castled Michael Pepper.
Debutant Josh Rymell showed some decent skills before being bowled by Mujeeb for 21 and then the bottom fell out.
Jimmy Neesham was caught at deep midwicket, Paul Walter was caught and bowled and Harmer skied to put Finn on a hat-trick – although Nijjar thwarted the treble with a six – although the former England bowler got the last laugh when he was caught at long-on.
The loss of five wickets in 17 balls killed off the hosts.
Niggar said: “It has been a difficult campaign. We have played some very good cricket but also some cricket we have not been proud of as well.
“There has been a few games, including today, where we should have been winning. There has been four or five of those in the competition and for players of this calibre that’s not good enough from us.
“The batters back their abilities, as do the bowlers, and on another day the [poor] dismissals get hit into Row Z or win us the game. We have to play a positive brand of cricket as as long as every plays with intent and are backing themselves we’re happy.”
Robson added: “It has been good to get a chance in the last couple of games. It hasn’t good well, losing both and not contributing, but today it was nice to contribute and end the campaign with a win.
“I enjoy my 50-over cricket and that went well a couple of years ago. I’m not going to hide I have been more focused on the four-day stuff and we have normally had players like McCullum, AB and Paul Stirling so there hasn’t often been gaps for me. It was nice to get the opportunity today.
“We knew it would be tough against the spinners and slower balls. We felt like we had a decent score and thankfully the boy bowled well to finish the job.
“You look at Mujeeb and he is our star bowler. There is a reason he is in demand all over the world. But it doesn’t matter what the format, that if you have a star bowler in your attack they are often the difference. It is a massive advantage and today he showed that.”