Podmore takes chance amid Middlesex struggle
Gloucestershire 105 for 6 (Howell 39, Podmore 3-13) v Middlesex match abandoned
Middlesex were meant to embody the brave new world of this season's NatWest Blast. They began the season with an innovative double-header and a new captain perfectly suited to the format in Eoin Morgan. It seemed like an intoxicating mix.
It hasn't worked out like that. Two defeats in a day at Lord's was not the start anyone envisaged - and Morgan promptly branded the concept of back-to-back games "unfeasible". Five defeats followed in their next six matches.
On a gloomy and ultimately rain-ruined evening at Lord's the prospect of a T20 game against Gloucestershire - pitting the bottom two sides in the South Division against each other - was not the most enticing prospect, even before factoring in the competing attractions of the football World Cup and Wimbledon tennis.
In the circumstances, that 14,000 still attended was heartening. They might have felt they deserved rather better than an anaemic pitch rendering timing the ball almost impossible. Gloucestershire managed only five boundaries in 20 turgid overs, a sight that will have done little to encourage the crowd to return.
Still, Harry Podmore would not have been complaining. Middlesex's miserable T20 season, allied to their impressive start in the Championship, has led to them resting their big fast-bowling feasts from T20. Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones both played today, but for Middlesex second XI against Surrey at Radlett rather than for the first team at Lord's.
Yet Middlesex's T20 despair has also created opportunities. The 19-year-old Podmore has seized his. He bowls full and straight and is evidently not easily fazed. As Adam Rouse moved around the crease in Gloucestershire's final over, in a desperate attempt to wake the innings up from its slumber, Podmore's focus was unwavering, and he decimated Rouse's stumps. In his first two professional matches - both televised T20s - Podmore has now taken five wickets for only 33 runs.
James Harris has had difficulties in this season's T20 Blast, going at over 8.5 runs an over but, from the moment Alex Gidman was caught off a top edge in the deep in the game's opening over, this had the feel of being a better day. As Gloucestershire stumbled to 19 for 3 off their Powerplay, it became apparent that consistent bowling on a length, the sort that batsmen relish on quicker pitches, would be sufficient to choke the innings. Benny Howell top scored with 39, including the only six of the innings, but it took 48 balls. At least Will Gidman attempted innovation to end the stasis, reverse-sweeping Ravi Patel for four and deploying the scoop against Harris.
Yet so turgid was the pitch that it is hard to imagine even the staunchest home supporter being particularly aggrieved that rain deprived Middlesex of the chance to chase down 106, even if an innings from Morgan would have shed more light on the pitch. A no result effectively confirms the premature exits of both sides though Middlesex have been anticipating such a result since their ill-fated Saturday five weeks ago.