Hat-trick gives Middlesex the championship after agreed run chase
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.”