Middlesex win MCC v Champions game

March 29, 2017

County champions Middlesex began the new season with a dramatic one-wicket win over the MCC in Abu Dhabi, despite having to chase over 300 to win.

The MCC had dominated in the first innings after making 332 and bowling Middlesex out for 179, but the champions fought back to dismiss their opponents for 151 in the second innings and set up a victory chase.

After half-centuries from Nick Compton and Nick Gubbins, Middlesex cruised to 242-4 with victory in sight, but then Jamie Overton produced a brilliant hat-trick.

Having pinned Eskinazi lbw for 44, he then dismissed James Franklin and James Harris to reduce Middlesex to 242-7.

However, the champions were still able to scrape home, thanks to a heroic 89 not out from wicketkeeper John Simpson.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Simpson said: "It was just a case of staying in the moment and trying to play each ball and pick my options. I was fortunate to get a few out of the middle of the bat.

"It was a great experience to play with the pink ball, I've never faced one before and that will be really useful going forward into this season."

The traditional opening fixture of the season has been played in a non-traditional venue in recent years, with the Middle Eastern desert providing an opportunity to get players used to the pink ball under lights.

Indeed, it was in the twilight and with the ball swinging that bowlers were often able to pose a big threat, as Overton did when he took his hat-trick.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the Edgbaston Test in August may be fascinated to see how the pink ball behaves in English conditions, particularly in the long summer twilight. James Anderson will be hoping he can wreak havoc in the West Indies batting, although he may do this in any case whatever colour the ball is.

England's other Test match opponents this summer will be South Africa, who have just secured a 1-0 series win in New Zealand.

However, they were lucky as they were 80-5 in their second innings, trailing by 95, when the last day of the third and final Test in Hamilton was washed out.

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