Match Report: Essex v Middlesex


Essex v Middlesex

Vitality Blast
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Sunday 02 June 2024 | 4:00pm


Team News:

Essex: Adam Rossington†, Dean Elgar, Michael Pepper, Jordan Cox, Paul Walter, Matt Critchley, Daniel Sams, Simon Harmer*, Luc Benkenstein, Ben Allison, Aaron Beard.

Middlesex: Stephen Eskinazi*, Martin Andersson, Ryan Higgins, Max Holden, Jack Davies†, Joe Cracknell, Luke Hollman, Josh de Caires, Tom Helm, Blake Cullen, Noah Cornwell.

Match Details:

Umpires: Mark Newell & Neil Bainton
Match Referee: Peter Such
Toss: Essex won the toss and elected to bowl first
Result: Essex won by four wickets

Scorecard: View here

Match Reaction: Michael Pepper

Match Highlights:

Match Report

Michael Pepper fired a sensational hundred off 43 balls as Essex made light work of chasing a target of 203 to beat Middlesex by four wickets and seal their first win of the 2024 Vitality Blast.

Pepper’s innings, the first T20 century for Essex since Cameron Delport’s 2019 ton, was a stunning display of pyrotechnics and underpinned a chase that was successful with two overs to spare.

It was also his first century in any format in senior cricket, and on a glorious June afternoon at The Cloud County Ground, he was supported by cameos from Dean Elgar, Jordan Cox, and Matt Critchley.

Max Holden had top-scored with an unbeaten 85 off 42 balls for the visitors, while Daniel Sams and Paul Walter each collected two wickets apiece for the Eagles.

With Simon Harmer having elected to chase after winning the toss, the hosts found immediate joy when Aaron Beard had Stephen Eskinazi caught behind by Adam Rossington with his first ball.

A hefty stand of 66 between captain Eskinazi’s opening partner Andersson and Ryan Higgins saw out the remainder of the powerplay, before the latter was well stumped off Matt Critchley for 27.

Critchley’s opening two overs went for just ten runs combined, with only eight of those off the bowler, helping to restrict Middlesex to 87-2 at halfway.

The introduction of fellow leg-spinner Luc Benkenstein brought more success as Andersson was well caught by Dean Elgar at backward point while one shy of his half-century.

However, a pair of sizeable overs, for which Holden was primarily responsible as he hit four sixes, kept the runs flowing for the Seaxes as the batter reached a 24-ball fifty and the total moved on to 150-3.

With five overs to go, Walter put the brakes on with two scalps, first removing Joe Cracknell for a swift 22 via a fine Sams catch at mid-on, before Josh de Caires was bowled for a duck.

Holden, though, remained steadfast and continued to strike boundaries around Sams taking two wickets, with Jack Davies caught by Benkenstein before Luke Hollman was held by Ben Allison.

Having hit Walter for four and six in the penultimate over, Holden took the Seaxes to the brink of 200, before he did the same off Sams at the very end to see Middlesex to an imposing target.

In reply, the loss of Rossington for 10, caught one-handed by wicketkeeper Davies off Tom Helm, took little out of the efforts of Elgar and Michael Pepper, who shone throughout the powerplay.

Pepper in particular found sparkling fluency, hitting Blake Cullen for four successive fours and following up with a further two in two off Helm.

Meanwhile, Elgar was not to be outdone and hoisted Noah Cornwell for an enormous leg-side six, as the Eagles soared to 70-1 after the first six overs.

Even the end of the fielding restrictions brought no respite for Middlesex, though, as Elgar fired another six off de Caires, before Pepper hit two of his own off Luke Hollman to bookend the eighth over.

The second of those maximums saw him post a 20-ball fifty, the second-fastest in Essex history, and he continued to accumulate even as Elgar was caught by Hollman off de Caires for a 21-ball 32.

Jordan Cox hammered an entertaining 22 from just eight balls, including an enormous six that sailed over the Doug Insole Pavilion, but the afternoon belonged to Pepper.

With Essex well on the way to a comprehensive win, he brought up his century in characteristic fashion via his sixth maximum of the game.

Although he then fell lbw to Hollman for 101, having become the 11th T20 centurion in Eagles history, he had done the work, and there was little left for Harmer and Sams to complete the job.

It was the latter who did so, striking four to finish things off and get the hosts on the board for the first time in this season’s competition.

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex are now back in Vitality Blast action for 2024.

Demand remains exceptionally high, and there are now only 15% of tickets remaining across all seven home fixtures, with two already sold out.

With the Eagles aiming to go one better in 2024 and the next home match extremely close to a sell-out, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Friday 07 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Glamorgan – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – SOLD OUT
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here