It was a tough weekend for Middlesex. They lost both matches, first by 45 runs against Nottinghamshire, and then by 204 against Warwickshire who remain unbeaten at the top of the ladder.
On Sunday at Mill Hill School, Nottinghamshire won the toss and asked Middlesex to field. Gayatri Gole and Catherine Dalton opened the bowling to Sonia Odedra and Georgie Boyce. After scoring just one off Gole’s first over the pair proceeded to add a further 22 runs in the next four overs. Both Odedra, the Notts skipper, and Boyce, an England Academy player, found the boundary with ease. The pair brought up their half-centuries in the over before drinks with Odedra’s coming off 54 deliveries and Boyce’s 50, putting Notts in a strong position at 113-0 after 17.
The break soon brought success for Middlesex as Beth Morgan had Boyce caught by Natasha Miles for 55 – 40 of which were fours as the impressive opening stand of 121 came to an end. The next over saw Isabelle Westbury bowl Megan Burton for a single as Nottinghamshire were reduced to 127-2 after 20 overs. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Odedra continued to find the boundary before departing for 86 – caught by Fran Wilson off seamer Hannah Wakeman with the score on 194-6.
Some strong lower-order batting from Nottinghamshire helped them to post a competitive 252-9. Again the home side struggled with their line, giving away 39 wides in a disappointing tally of 45 extras.
With rain forecast, there was always a strong chance the match could be decided by run rate. Odedra opened to her opposite number Naomi Dattani alongside debutant Sophie Munro. Economical overs were rewarded with a wicket for Munro who had Miles trapped lbw for seven with Middlesex on 22. England’s Wilson joined her captain at the crease and the pair worked the ball around, putting on 38 before Dattani was caught by Lucy Higham off Gordon for 19. The wicket brought Maia Bouchier to the crease, playing in her first match at this level for the season. Wilson departed after the pair had added just four runs as she attempted a reverse hit and was well caught at point by Odedra for 25.
Bouchier and Morgan batted sensibly, rotating the strike, before rain put a halt to the game. The pair returned with a revised target of 197 which meant Middlesex required 111 off 18 overs. Morgan was dismissed soon after the resumption, caught by Higham for 16 off Gordon.
Catherine Dalton joined Bouchier, and the pair had clearly not given up hope of chasing the total. They added 33 runs before Dalton was bowled by young Munro with the score on 132. Bouchier soon followed in the same fashion for a fluent 33 as Middlesex began to collapse.
The Nottinghamshire bowlers quickly finished the match before rain could bring the players off for a second time, as Middlesex were dismissed for 151. The pick of the bowlers was Munro who claimed 5-24 from 7.2 overs as Nottinghamshire won by 45 runs.
Monday saw Middlesex host a powerful Warwickshire side at Bushy Park. Captain Dattani won the toss and elected to field first, naming the same eleven as Sunday.
International duo Amy Jones (England) and Kathryn Bryce (Scotland) opened the batting for the Bears, facing Gole and Dattani. Again the openers got off to a good start, scoring 55 runs from the first ten overs. It was a good run rate which accelerated even when Bryce and Jones departed. Milly Pope bowled Bryce for 22 with just her third delivery of the day, and Isabelle Westbury had the dangerous Jones caught by Wilson for 41 which left Warwickshire on 73-2 in the 15th over.
New Zealand international Sophie Devine was joined at the crease by England Academy player Georgia Hennessy and the pair found the boundary with ease. Devine is well known for her ability to clear the ropes and did not disappoint. She scored four sixes, three against off-spin and one against medium-pace as she gave the crowd a taste of what they can expect from the White Ferns in the World Cup. Devine’s fifty came off 36 balls and her century off just 65. It took some good bowling from Pope to end the masterclass as Devine faced two dot balls and was caught by Dattani next ball for a boundary-filled 122 – an impressive 15 fours and four sixes. By this stage Warwickshire were already on 278-6 which gave the lower-order a licence to play their shots.
Warwickshire finished on a formidable 329-7 – the highest Division One score of the season. The pick of the bowlers was Pope who claimed 2-61, including the prize scalp of Devine which she claimed in a wicket maiden.
In reply Middlesex opened with Dattani and Miles who had the challenge of facing the international bowling of Devine and Bryce. Few loose deliveries were given and with the required run rate climbing it was little surprise wickets soon fell. Dattani was caught by Rebecca Grundy off Bryce for four, soon followed by Wilson who was bowled for nought. This left Middlesex struggling at 7-2 after five overs. The in-form Bouchier joined vice-captain Miles at the crease and played some lovely shots finding the boundary on four occasions before being caught by captain Marie Kelly off left-arm orthodox Grundy for 19. Miles soon followed, caught by Jenny Gunn off Grundy for 14.
Dalton was bowled by spinner Georgia Davis and Middlesex were in danger of being bowled out for under one hundred as they were reduced to 42-5. Former England player and Middlesex stalwart Morgan was the only player to offer real resistance, scoring a fluent 40 before she was caught by Kelly off Davis with the score on 96-9. Wicketkeeper India Whitty and Gole were the last pair. Batting with nothing to lose, they shared a 29-run partnership – the second highest of the innings. Whitty finished unbeaten on 16 and Gole made 15. Middlesex were all out for 125 which gave Warwickshire an emphatic 204-run victory.
It was a strong all-round performance from a quality Warwickshire side. The pick of the Bears’ bowlers was Grundy who claimed 4-26.
Both venues were fantastic hosts and the players even enjoyed a guard of honour at Bushy Park.
Middlesex now switch to T20s and host Sussex and Yorkshire at Merchant Taylors’ School on Sunday 18th June.