Middlesex beat Essex by 50 runs in a Pro40 friendly match at the sun soaked Ford County Ground on Monday.
Despite collapsing to 86-6 their eventual total of 215 was enough to beat the home side comfortably.
The difference between the sides was the batting of Middlesex’s new all-rounder Steven Crook who came in at eight and smashed 55 off 34. Alongside youngster Adam Rossington, the pair put on 89 for the seventh wicket to build a solid first innings score.
Essex were on top for the first 25 overs. After a tight opening five overs it was Graham Napier who made the breakthrough bowling Dawid Malan for 12.
Sam Robson who tried to hold together the middle order made 41 off 64 balls but lost three partners in the space of three overs when Simpson, Captain Dexter and Scollay all departed cheaply off the bowling Tymal Mills and Greg Smith.
Then Michael Comber got the crucial wicket of Robson, who would have been furious with his dismissal. Robson chipped straight to Tom Westley at mid wicket after initially anchoring the innings.
After Ollie Rayner had gone it was down to Rossington to rebuild the innings. Crook promoted up the order, was to play a crucial role in setting a good total.
Crook’s first ball was hit for four and it was the start of a counter attack on the Essex bowlers, Tim Phillips figures in particular taking punishment with one of his overs going for 14 runs.
Crook then smashed a huge six off Comber, which went over the member’s stand as he and Rossington rebuilt the innings.
A couple of balls after Rossington had joined the act and hit a six himself his partner Crook was out. Mills got the wicket of Crook, with Tim Phillips taking the catch. Mills picked up three wickets at the cost of 63 runs.
Rossington tried to boost Middlesex from there 175-8 to a respectable total and he did, top scoring with 63 off 66 balls before departing with Middlesex on 215-9, Napier getting his wicket.
Ireland was the last batsman in and he smashed the next delivery straight up and James Foster took a good catch to end the innings three balls early.
Mark Pettini and Tom Westley strolled out to the middle aiming to get Essex off to a good start. Pettini in particular took the attack to Middlesex smashing 14 off Toby Rolland-Jones first over.
Westley departed in the sixth over for eight caught by a diving Ollie Rayner at slip off the bowling of Rolland Jones who returned figures of 4-29. Jaik Mickleburgh was next man in and like Pettini tried to take the attack to Middlesex. After hitting three fours he was next out, lbw to Robbie Williams for 19.
After a brief 25 run partnership a flurry of wickets fell for Essex. Adam Wheater was the first of four in an eight over period. Anthony Ireland forcing Wheater to top edge his shot high in the air and Ollie Rayner was able to take a good catch at square leg.
Mark Pettini had just reached his half century when Tom Smith had him plumb lbw. He had looked composed for his 52 off 57 balls, an innings that included five fours and one six.
Greg Smith departed in the same fashion as Pettini, lbw to his namesake Smith for four. Michael Comber then followed, bowled by Robbie Williams for 9.
Experienced duo Essex Captain James Foster and Graham Napier gave the Home faithful some hope of victory with an enterprising 47 run partnership in seven overs.
Napier smashed Rayner’s first two overs for 24 runs before the spinner got his revenge, Napier caught and bowled by Rayner for 33 off 18 balls.
Essex lost their next three wickets for just six runs as Rolland Jones took three wickets to help Middlesex comfortably bowl their hosts out inside 35.2 overs.