Jun 10 2011 By Jon Batham
Middlesex CCC Image 1
RYAN McLaren paid tribute to Owais Shah after the Middlesex old boy came back to haunt them in last night’s Twenty20 match with Essex.
Shah, who left Lord’s at the end of last season after 14 years hit a match-winning 78 not out from just 50 balls as Essex chased down a target of 151 with two overs to spare, condemning the Lord’s tenants to their third straight defeat in the competition so far.
The 32-year-old right-hander’s knock was the only innings of real substance by either side on a night when six of Middlesex’s seven batsmen got to double figures, but only Neil Dexter got past 30.
McLaren, a former winner of the T20 with Kent claimed despite the emphasis on making runs from ball one, the value of batting through an innings as Shah did cannot be underestimated.
He said: “The important thing on a wicket like tonight which was a bit two paced is that you have a batter to bat through the majority of the innings and Owais showed that if you keep on batting until the end you can have other blokes batting around you, whereas we lost wickets at regular stages.
“It is difficult in T20 cricket if you have got two relatively new batsmen in at the end, so maybe that is an area we can look at.”
Shah paced his effort beautifully in contrast to the Middlesex batsmen who having got to 72-2 after eight overs lost momentum in an innings which produced just four sixes despite a small boundary on the leg-side. Only 46 runs came in the final six overs.
The bowlers, flayed for 434 runs in their first two games by Glamorgan and Somerset began well as Steve Finn, back from England duty, and Steven Crook bagged a wicket apiece to reduce the Eagles to 1-2 after two overs.
Finn later struck again, while left-arm spinner Tom Smith (2-25) bowled beautifully to keep his side in contention.
James Foster (30 not out) was crucially dropped in the deep by Anthony Ireland at 103-5, but after 16 overs, like Middlesex before them Essex had scored 116.
It was here the wheels came off for the Middlesex attack once more as Ireland in particular took a hammering from the belligerent Shah who hit five sixes and five fours in total.
Bowling coach Richard Johnson admits his charges haven’t hit their straps in the competition so far.
He said: “Twenty/20 is incredibly hard work for bowlers – that’s a definite.
“The wickets are pretty good these days, boundaries are short and they bring the boards in for batsmen to hit sixes.
“We are working on plans to counter that which I think we are clear on, but we are not quite executing them how we want to at the moment.”
Middlesex continue their search for a first win against Sussex at Hove this evening.