Cracknell blast helps Middlesex overhaul Hampshire

Joe Cracknell in batting action for North Middlesex against Hampstead CC in 2019

Joe Cracknell in batting action for North Middlesex against Hampstead CC in 2019 - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

Joe Cracknell’s sensational 77 saw Middlesex beat Hampshire by three wickets in a Vitality Blast thriller at Radlett,

The Durham University student, on his recall to the starting line-up, blazed three sixes and nine fours in his 43-ball knock, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 122 with wicketkeeper John Simpson (62) as the hosts chased down a target of 216 despite three wickets for Hampshire’s Mason Crane.

Earlier the visiting trio of D’ Arcy Short, Joe Weatherley and Lewis McManus all made 40s as the Hawks posted a daunting 215-6.

A Hampshire side who had struggled for runs so far in the tournament made hay in the powerplay after being invited to bat, Short hitting three towering sixes as he and skipper James Vince raised 50 in 23 balls.

The pair added 79 before Vince pulled Blake Cullen into the hands of Stevie Eskinazi at deep square leg, but Weatherley carried on the onslaught, clearing the ropes three times.

Short, starved of strike since his early fireworks was caught in the deep for 48 off the bowling of Sowter (2-32)  and when Weatherley followed for a rapid 41 from just 23 balls Hampshire were 124-3.

But Liam Dawson, dropped on nought, hit a six onto the pavilion roof and Lewis McManus plundered three more maximums in his 47 from 27 deliveries before departing in the final over.

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Middlesex made a woeful start as Kyle Abbott flattened Eskinazi’s off stump before Paul Stirling and Eoin Morgan perished via uppercuts to third man, leaving them 30-3.

It was left to North Middlesex CC's Cracknell and Simpson to carry the fight for the hosts. Cracknell had hit the Lord’s score box with a six on his debut in this competition last year and he evoked memories of that occasion with some brutal hitting, taking 20 off Crane’s first over, including a towering six over mid-wicket, as he raced to 50 in 24 balls.

Simpson, helped by four sixes, took just two balls longer to reach 50 as the century stand came in 47 balls. He would clear the ropes once more before McManus stumped off the bowling of Crane.

The leg-spinner then bowled Luke Hollman - also of North Middlesex CC - for 10 before claiming the prize wicket of Cracknell held at the second attempt at backward point by James Fuller.

But Chris Green’s towering six saw the hosts to a first win of the tournament with two balls to spare.

Cracknell said: "We have played at Radlett for many years now and know it to be a very quick scoring ground, so if someone gets going you can score at 15-20 an over fairly easily.

"Simmo (John Simpson) and I stayed calm, waited for a ball in our zone and managed to pull it off.

"I'm riding the wave of naivety almost. The fact I got an opportunity today is the most important thing. We are always encouraged to play with a smile on our face and I think that showed today. 

"I played for the 2s yesterday and felt good and my job was made easy today by Morgs (Eoin Morgan), Stuart Law and the coaching staff telling me just to go out there and express myself."