Hat-trick gives Mid­dle­sex the cham­pi­onship af­ter agreed run chase

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - RORY DOL­LARD

TOBY ROLAND-JONES was un­aware he had com­pleted a fairy­tale hat-trick that sparked wild cel­e­bra­tions at Lord’s as Mid­dle­sex clinched their first County Cham­pi­onship ti­tle since 1993.

A 61-run vic­tory over hold­ers York­shire was enough to snatch the do­mes­tic game’s most val­ued prize af­ter four roller-coaster days that came down to the fi­nal ses­sion of the sea­son.

Mid­dle­sex de­clared on 359 for six to set a run chase of 240 from 40 overs that was de­cided when Roland-Jones plun­dered six for 54 in­clud­ing the key wicket of Tim Bres­nan, the ring­mas­ter of York­shire’s de­fi­ance.

The last three were de­liv­ered in suc­ces­sive balls span­ning two overs and when Ryan Side­bot­tom was bowled it was all over with Roland-Jones swamped by elated team-mates.

“To come out on the right side for the first time in 23 years in just amaz­ing,” Roland-Jones said. “I didn’t even know the hat-trick had even hap­pened. It was one of those sit­u­a­tions where they had to go for it, so I just bowled straight and that paid off.

Cap­tains James Franklin and An­drew Gale, whose sides could both have taken the ti­tle by win­ning yes­ter­day, ne­go­ti­ated Mid­dle­sex’s dec­la­ra­tion over a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions and the penul­ti­mate ses­sion ended with the sight of York­shire’s com­pli­ant bowlers con­ced­ing a mass of easy runs.

In con­spir­ing to en­sure there was a re­sult at Lord’s, Som­er­set’s am­bi­tion of win­ning a first ti­tle them­selves hav­ing seen off Not­ting­hamshire with a day to spare was foiled and they watched for­lornly from the County Ground as the prize slipped away.

“I don’t know if we feel un­easy about the dec­la­ra­tion. You play 15 games lead­ing up to this and for the game to peter out into a draw…” said RolandJones, when asked if the dec­la­ra­tion was in keep­ing with the spirit of the game.

“I feel for Som­er­set, I really do. It’s tough but in this sit­u­a­tion both teams wanted to find a way of win­ning on what’s essen­tially been a pretty de­cent pitch through­out. I un­der­stand there might be some hard feel­ings down there, but all three teams have played some great cricket this year.

“Most peo­ple would agree that 240 from 40 overs favoured York­shire. We were pre­pared to meet them closer to their end than what we thought was fair. We just wanted to have a crack, the same as they did.

“It was pretty tense and when we needed three or four wick­ets, it was pretty dif­fi­cult to see the way through.”

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