Cockbain's maiden T20 century crushes Middlesex

10 August 2018

Ian Cockbain struck his first hundred in T20 cricket to power Gloucestershire to an important win by 70 runs over Middlesex at the Brightside Ground in the South Group of the Vitality T20 Blast.

The 31 year old made 123 before he was last out off the final delivery, having hit six sixes and twelve fours against an increasingly dispirited attack. He was well supported by Michael Klinger, Kieran Noema-Barnett and Jack Taylor as Gloucestershire made 242-4 after being put in to bat.

The Middlesex chase flattered for a while but there was no rapid acceleration in the second half of the innings, and they fell well short at 172-6, giving Gloucestershire a margin of victory which would significantly improve their net run rate. They now sit second in the table ahead of Friday's game against Essex at Chelmsford.

Watch Ian Cockbain give his post match thoughts here:

 

Gloucestershire recalled Jack Taylor and Tom Smith to the starting line up, with Matt Taylor and Graeme van Buuren making way from the team that won at Canterbury. Michael Klinger lost the toss and Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan was confident enough in the pitch to ask Gloucestershire to bat.

Middlesex have had a poor Vitality T20 Blast campaign and here they lacked much conviction in their field, something Gloucestershire siezed on quickly once Ian Cockbain joined Michael Klinger in the second over after Miles Hammond gave a gentle catch to Paul Stirling off Tom Barber at short cover.

With the pitch well across towards the Kennington Avenue side of the ground, there were two short boundaries, one square of the wicket and one straight towards the Ashley Down Road end. Cockbain's six off Steve Finn in the powerplay was more in the timing than any brut force, and he and Klinger virtually matched each other on the scoreboard for 10 overs, adding 99 with shots all around the wicket as Middlesex offered up width and inconsistent length.

Spinner Ravi Patel was the exception but he only bowled three overs, one of which saw Klinger work him to Stirling at backward point for 44. Cockbain had just completed his fifty from 29 balls with a six off James Franklin, but the fireworks really started when Kieran Noema-Barnett sent Tom Barber over the boundary boards three times in the same over, the last of them off a free hit for Middlesex having the wrong number of fielders inside the circle.

His innings only lasted 12 balls, but Noema-Barnett made 31 and Cockbain harnessed the energy he had given the innings, clubbing two flat sixes off James Fuller, the latter just clearing Steve Finn at extra cover. To have Jack Taylor at the other end was an ideal partner, and even though time was short with only 4.5 overs remaining, the pair added 82 runs with nine fours and five sixes, Cockbain bringing up his century in the penultimate over with a boundary to mid wicket off Barber. His innings had not been without risk, but he struck the ball cleanly and played authentic strokes. There were no reverse sweeps, scoops or ramp shots here, and with three Middlesex bowlers conceding more than 50 runs Gloucestershire reached 242-4, Cockbain giving Franklin a consolation wicket off the final delivery.

With such a total to defend, Gloucestershire were hot favourites and in truth Middlesex gave them few worrying moments. Of greater concern was Michael Klinger's non appearance in the field because of a back spasm, although he stood beside the dug out to watch the Middlesex innings having taken some pain killers. Graeme van Buuren was in the wars too, diving on the sqaure leg boundary and appearing to damage his left hamstring whilst deputising for Klinger. It remains to be seen when they can play again.

The two points were almost secured in the powerplay as Payne, Tye and Noema-Barnett removed Stirling (21), Malan (15) and the promoted Fuller (22) at a cost of 61 runs as Middlesex went for their shots from the outset.

Steve Eskinazi and Eoin Morgan represented their last serious chance of pressurising the Gloucestershire bowlers, and both sent Benny Howell over the rope but there were few boundaries to go with the occasional maximum as Gloucestershire bowled with much more control.

The fourth wicket pair added 86 but Middlesex were into their last five overs when Noema-Barnett removed both in successive balls, Morgan caught at long on by Hammond for 36 and Eskinazi bowled for 51. Scott survived the hat trick, but Noema-Barnett finished with a career best 3-18 and Gloucestershire coasted to a win which puts them back on the coat tails of leaders Somerset with four matches left in the South Group.

 

 

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