»Hammond stars in Fes­ti­val T20 vic­tory,

Gloucestershire Echo - - SPORT -

GLOUCES­TER­SHIRE cel­e­brated a suc­cess­ful Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val both on and off the field with a closely-fought two-wicket vic­tory over Mid­dle­sex in the Vi­tal­ity Blast.

Vic­tory in front of a full house of 5,000 at the Col­lege Ground not only se­cured Glouces­ter­shire their first win of the Blast but also put the ex­cla­ma­tion mark on one of the most fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful Chel­tenham fix­tures ever.

Two sell-out Blast crowds and an av­er­age at­ten­dances of around 2,000 at two Spec­savers County Cham­pi­onship fix­tures, which both lasted the full four days, have en­sured a healthy boost to the club’s fi­nances.

The only day af­fected by bad weather was the Blast match against Glam­or­gan last week, when there was suf­fi­cient play for Glouces­ter­shire to re­tain a full re­turn from ticket sales.

“While at­ten­dances for the open­ing Cham­pi­onship game with Le­ices­ter­shire were slightly be­low ex­pec­ta­tions, over­all it has been a fan­tas­tic Fes­ti­val,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Will Brown said.

“Hos­pi­tal­ity sold re­ally well this year and there was some bril­liant cricket. The way the Le­ices­ter­shire game fin­ished was un­be­liev­able drama.”

Chel­tenham-born Miles Hammond de­lighted his home crowd with a bril­liant ar­ray of shots as Glouces­ter­shire saw off Mid­dle­sex.

The 23-year-old opener smashed 63, in­clud­ing nine fours and three sixes, to help see his side to a two-wicket win after the vis­i­tors had won the toss and elected to bat.

Hammond said: “I al­ways en­joy bat­ting at Chel­tenham where I was brought up and I’m happy to have con­trib­uted to a great win for the team.

“It has been a fan­tas­tic Fes­ti­val for us

and I truly be­lieve we can go all the way in the Blast this sea­son. To­day was great fun and a lot eas­ier than the grind of four-day cricket.

“This year I want to take more re­spon­si­bil­ity for our bat­ting in T20. I don’t just go out there to swing from the start, al­though some­times it may look like that.

“If the ball is in my area and I think I can clear the rope or a fielder I will go for it and be pos­i­tive.”

With­out AB de Villers, who was nurs­ing a hand in­jury, Mid­dle­sex could post only 148 for nine on the fast-scor­ing Col­lege Ground, Ste­vie Eski­nazi mak­ing 40 and John Simp­son 42 not out. David Payne claimed three for 32, while Ryan Hig­gins and AJ Tye both re­turned two for 23.

In re­ply, Glouces­ter­shire slipped to 84 for five, de­spite Hammond’s ef­forts, be­fore Benny How­ell (33) and Jack Tay­lor (24) made sure they reached 151 for eight and won with four balls to spare.

Mid­dle­sex be­gan like a team who had won their first two group games, Eski­nazi hit­ting three fours off the first four balls of the match, sent down by Payne, and Dawid Malan loft­ing Graeme van Bu­uren’s sec­ond ball from the other end over deep square for six.

But left-arm spin­ner van Bu­uren stemmed the early mo­men­tum with his next de­liv­ery, which saw Malan caught and bowled off a skyer.

Dan Lin­coln came in at three in the ab­sence of de Vil­liers for his Mid­dle­sex de­but and he and Eski­nazi, who faced only 26 balls, took the score to 73 be­fore the lat­ter was bril­liantly stumped by James Bracey off a How­ell leg-side wide.

Lin­coln made sure the mo­men­tum was main­tained, hit­ting Hig­gins for a straight six, be­fore be­ing caught at deep mid-wicket off the fol­low­ing de­liv­ery for a promis­ing 30.

The same over saw Nick Gub­bins taken at long-on for a sin­gle and at the half­way stage Mid­dle­sex were 81 for four.

The vis­i­tors were then squeezed by How­ell, AJ Tye, Hig­gins and Tom Smith, los­ing George Scott cheaply as they added 26 in four overs.

Toby Roland-jones and Tom Helm per­ished to catches at ex­tra cover off Payne, while Nathan Souter also suc­cumbed to an at­tempted big hit and Mu­jeeb was bowled by Tye for a duck.

Mid­dle­sex had lost their early mo­men­tum, a straight six by Simp­son off How­ell in the 15th over a rare blow of de­fi­ance.

Glouces­ter­shire’s in­nings be­gan as their op­po­nents’ had done, Hammond hit­ting two fours and a six in the open­ing two overs.

But the third saw Tom Helm strike a dou­ble blow, hav­ing Michael Klinger caught be­hind for 10 and Ian Cock­bain taken at point two balls later to leave the hosts 25 for two.

Hammond con­tin­ued to at­tack with a se­ries of sweetly-timed shots that help take the hosts to 59 for two at the end of the power-play.

Soon the lo­cal boy was rais­ing his bat to ac­knowl­edge warm ap­plause for a 26-ball fifty.

Bracey and Hig­gins fell cheaply be­fore Hammond’s su­perb knock was ended by a low catch from wick­et­keeper Simp­son off Roland-jones.

At 84 for five, Glouces­ter­shire had to re­group. how­ell, dropped at short cover be­fore he had scored, and Tay­lor added 45 price­less runs.

Both fell at the end, along with van Bu­uren, but had al­ready en­sured a hugely suc­cess­ful Fes­ti­val for Glouces­ter­shire ended in style, Smith hit­ting the win­ning runs.

James Bracey pulls off a su­perb leg-side stump­ing off a wide Benny How­ell de­liv­ery to dis­miss Ste­vie Eski­nazi

Miles Hammond hits out against Mid­dle­sex

Tom Smith hits the win­ning runs past a de­spair­ing Nathan Sowter

AJ Tye dis­misses George Scott

Tom Smith and AJ Tye cel­e­brate the win

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