Mid­dle­sex in­sist there are no re­grets...

Jeremy Black­more sees Es­sex bat­tle to a draw at the Home of Cricket

The Cricket Paper - - REVIEW -

Mid­dle­sex head coach Richard Scott in­sisted his side had no re­grets over not en­forc­ing the fol­low-on against Es­sex, de­spite the game fin­ish­ing in a draw. In­stead, Scott pointed to the cham­pi­ons’ dom­i­nance through­out most of this match and sounded an omi­nous warn­ing to the other ti­tle con­tenders in the di­vi­sion. “I said last week [after the draw with Hamp­shire] that there were ar­eas where we needed to im­prove and we were back to our very best here. We had part­ner­ships right the way down the or­der, re­ally good in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances as well and as a bowl­ing unit. That’s what stood us in good stead last year to make us cham­pi­ons.” Es­sex were bowled out 212 runs short of Mid­dle­sex’s im­pos­ing 507-7 de­clared, but the hosts de­cided to bat a sec­ond time. Nick Gub­bins, Sam Rob­son and Ste­vie Eski­nazi all showed an­other side to their games, each scor­ing a rapid half-cen­tury to go with their first-in­nings tons. Set an aca­demic 451 to win in a frac­tion over a day, Es­sex fin­ished the match eight down when bad light stopped play and Scott de­fended the de­ci­sion not to en­force the fol­low on or de­clare the sec­ond in­nings ear­lier. “When we bowled them out, we had bowled al­most 100 overs. It was a good tac­ti­cal move to give our bowlers a rest. It turned out prob­a­bly the best time in the match to bat, cer­tainly the way we bat­ted. With the dec­la­ra­tion, you don’t want to leave any door open if you look at that scor­ing rate. “I was re­ally pleased with our pro­cesses and level of per­for­mance and but for bad light it would have been a sound vic­tory.”

Scott de­clared him­self im­pressed with his top three: “If you look at Gub­bins and Rob­son’s record now as an open­ing pair, they've been tremen­dous over the past year and a half.”

Eski­nazi’s sec­ond in­nings blitz was ex­plo­sive. He smashed five sixes and five fours on his way to mak­ing 62 off just 34.

“One of the great things about this job is that you learn new things about your play­ers ev­ery day,” said Scott. “I’ve not seen Eski play that way be­fore. When he started whack­ing in­ter­na­tional bowlers over the Grand Stand, he showed some great one-day skills there!”

Eski­nazi’s third first-class cen­tury came after sus­tain­ing a nasty blow to the back of the hel­met early in his in­nings, but he shook off the in­ci­dent to fur­ther ce­ment his hold on the No. 3 spot.

“We’re ex­tremely lucky to have the depth we do,” Eski­nazi said. “And it means when you’re in, you’re al­ways look­ing over your shoul­der be­cause there are so many good play­ers wait­ing in the ranks. After spend­ing time in the sec­ond team, it re­ally builds your hunger and gives you the mo­ti­va­tion to try and stick in and make the spot your own.”

Mid­dle­sex and Eng­land will also have been heart­ened to see Steven Finn bowl­ing so flu­ently in this match. “Finny bowled with re­ally good rhythm,” said Scott. “He bowled with re­ally good pace, good carry and he’s get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter ev­ery time he bowls.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Blitz: Ste­vie Eski­nazi hit­ting out dur­ing his rapid 62 off just 34 de­liv­er­ies

Warn­ing: Richard Scott

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