A Fran Wilson half century might have been the dominant entry on the scorecard on a sunny spring day at Eastcote CC, but it was actually a pair of cameos from Alex Hartley which turned an otherwise well-balanced game into a one-sided walk in the park for Middlesex.
Put into bat, Middlesex lost Dunkley (3) early, playing on as she tried to cut Nat Sciver, but Tash Miles and Fran Wilson rebuilt, taking the score to 47 before Miles (14) became the first of Cecily Scutt’s five victims. Wilson looked to push on, dominating partnerships with Anna Nicholls (3) and Beth Morgan (7) to take them to 102-4.
However, the collapse that followed was one of which England would have been proud, as Middlesex lost their next 5 wickets for 11 runs, including a magnificent catch by Sophie Pout to dismiss Wilson for 63, leaving them on the brink at 113-9, with only Alex Hartley to come.
Hartley is a self-confessed “tail-ender” and initially looked quite the part as a couple of streaky edges went through the vacant slip area; but as she grew in confidence, she began to find her shots as her and Naomi Dattani put on 52 for the final wicket – not only changing the course of the game, but grabbing a potentially crucial extra batting bonus point as they passed 150.
In reply, Surrey were soon under the cosh as Middlesex’s overseas, South African-born New Zealander Holly Huddleston, bowling with real pace and good length, removed Kirstie White (3) and Nat Sciver (5) cheaply. Surrey continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, but nevertheless at 70-5, with Bryony Smith well set on 23, a victory still felt like a possibility until Hartley intervened once again.
Changing ends, looking for the ball to turn with the slope, Hartley and skipper Izzy Westbury set an attacking field with a slip and a gully, and were rewarded with two wickets in two balls – both caught by Westbury at gully. Suddenly there was no way back for Surrey, and they subsided to 99 all out, as Middlesex celebrated what could prove to be a very important 17-point win.
Afterwards, Alex Hartley told CRICKETher: “I’ve been working over the winter on my role as a tail-ender, getting off strike and getting the ‘in’ batter back on strike. I felt a bit of panic when I came in – I’ve never been in that situation before, coming in with 22 overs to bat – but I just had to play my own game and today it came off – my highest score!”