Middlesex insist there are no regrets...
Jeremy Blackmore sees Essex battle to a draw at the Home of Cricket
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.”
Blitz: Stevie Eskinazi hitting out during his rapid 62 off just 34 deliveries
Warning: Richard Scott