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August 14, 2014
County Cricket Show: Royal London Cup approaching climax
Nottinghamshire 368 for 2 (Hales 141, Taylor 100*) beat Middlesex 80 (Gurney 4-16) by 77 runs (D/L method)
Brilliant centuries from Alex Hales and James Taylor helped Nottinghamshire to a convincing 77-run victory under the Duckworth-Lewis method in their Royal London Cup match against Middlesex at Lord's.
Hales and Taylor each scored centuries for the England Lions during the recent triangular series and they again gave performances to interest the selectors - including Middlesex director of cricket, Angus Fraser - ahead of the ODI series against India starting later this month. Hales, Man of the Match for his 141, has been widely tipped for a one-day debut with England but Taylor stole his thunder with a 55-ball hundred to restate the qualities that have won him two Test and two ODI caps to date.
The two batsmen led the way for Notts to reach a colossal 368 for 2, a county record in one-day cricket, after the match had been reduced to 45 overs per side after an earlier stoppage. Nottinghamshire's total was the highest ever posted at Lord's in List A cricket, beating the 353 for 8 that Hampshire scored on the ground in 2005.
Middlesex's chase was temporarily halted due to more bad weather, before being reduced to a target of 158 from 16 overs. Wickets fell steadily from the outset and the home side could only muster 80 before being dismissed in only 13.3 overs, with Harry Gurney taking 4 for 16.
The visitors' were given the perfect start, after being put in, as Hales and Michael Lumb put on 217 for the first wicket, the highest-ever Notts' opening stand, beating Mike Harris and Basharat Hassan's 199 against Yorkshire in 1973.
Hales reached his century from 73 balls with 14 fours and three sixes but was not done then. He kicked on ruthlessly, hitting Ravi Patel into the Grandstand hospitality boxes for his fourth and biggest six. His only chance came on 132 when Toby Roland-Jones got a hand to a skied hit out to long-on but the fielder's misery was compounded as the ball fell to earth and rolled over the boundary.
Shortly afterwards a long hop from Dawid Malan brought about the breakthrough as Hales slapped the loose delivery straight to extra cover.
Lumb had been content to let the rampant Hales have the majority of the strike and reached his 50 in 69 balls with six fours, and had moved to within 19 of his hundred when he pulled Toby Roland-Jones to deep-midwicket.
Taylor and Samit Patel ensured the terrific start wasn't wasted as they punished some indifferent bowling and lacklustre fielding in a punishing stand of 122 in only 8.3 overs. Taylor, in particular, was brutal. Six mighty maximums had already been heaved high over the boundary ropes, taking him to 94 ahead of the final delivery of the innings.
Roland-Jones, a Lions' team-mate of Taylor's two days earlier, had no answer as the Nottinghamshire captain launched him spectacularly away over the midwicket rope to reach his 100 from just 55 balls, with 8 fours in addition to those seven sixes.
Paul Stirling had taken a single from the bowling of Gurney at the start of the reply but the torrential downpour that followed brought a premature halt to proceedings. When play resumed, Stirling fell immediately to Luke Fletcher and Gurney then removed Malan and Ryan Higgins with successive deliveries. Eoin Morgan muscled a quickfire 19 before lifting James Franklin into the hands of Lumb at long-on.
Patel removed both Neil Dexter and Chris Rogers, Gurney again took two wickets in two balls, leaving Ajmal Shahzad to deliver the final blow, having Patel caught in the covers.
The victory keeps Nottinghamshire in contention for a quarter-final berth, as they move on to nine points, with a home match against Warwickshire to follow, whilst Middlesex's qualification hopes have ended, despite them having an away trip to Kent to look forward to.
Hales admitted he had fulfilled a dream with his innings. "I've only played at Lord's a couple of times," he said. "As a former MCC Young Cricketer I always wanted to score a hundred here so I'm delighted. Every credit must go to Lumby - he batted beautifully and kept rotating the strike nicely. To then go and watch that innings from 'Titch' was something else, an amazing knock. We knew what we had to do but to go out there and achieve it like that is very special."
Middlesex director of cricket Fraser added: "If you play like that you don't deserve anything. From a Middlesex perspective it was an appalling performance. If you look at it more objectively there were two outstanding innings played by two very good young batsmen. Hales and Taylor struck the ball as well as I've seen anyone for a long time."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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