Cockbain, Payne get Gloucestershire back on track
Gloucestershire 214 for 4 (Cockbain 75, Howell 57) beat Middlesex 171 (Simpson 74, Payne 5-24) by 43 runs
Ian Cockbain stepped into the starring role after a first failure from Michael Klinger as Gloucestershire returned to winning ways with a 43-run victory over Middlesex in the NatWest T20 Blast at Richmond.
Captain Klinger contributed just 10 runs to the visitors' cause, having totalled 403 runs from his previous four innings in this year's competition without being dismissed. But at least he now has an average - and, much more important, a team success to celebrate after two defeats earlier in the week.
With Cockbain scoring 75 from 39 balls, helped by six sixes and five fours, while sharing in a third-wicket stand of 101 with Benny Howell - who supplied a T20 best of 57 - Gloucestershire were able to post a daunting total of 214 for 4 - their highest so far this year and a T20 record for any county at Old Deer Park.
Middlesex, who have now lost three consecutive games in the Blast and were looking for a first ever T20 win against Gloucestershire, at the eighth attempt, made a fast start in reply. But with wickets falling regularly, the hosts were always struggling and ended up well short. Only John Simpson, with an unbeaten 74, caused the visitors any real concern but his effort was overshadowed by David Payne, whose figures of 5 for 24 are the best so far in this year's competition.
Middlesex couldn't say Cockbain had not given them fair warning. He made an unbeaten 91 against them when Gloucestershire won by seven wickets at Bristol in mid-May. This time he took centre stage once Klinger had top-edged an attempted hook against James Harris. All but one of Cockbain's six sixes were hit straight, two of them coming off a single over from spinner Paul Stirling that cost 20 runs in all. And with Howell enjoying himself just as much, the third wicket pair posted a century stand at the rate of two runs per ball.
Cockbain eventually fell to Toby Roland-Jones via thick outside edge to short third man. But, by then, Gloucestershire were all but guaranteed a total in excess of 200 - and Geraint Jones made sure they comfortably achieved that target by hammering 34 runs from just 14 deliveries.
Paul Stirling, who has been in brilliant form for Ireland recently and then made a double century for Middlesex 2nds, hit two of his first three balls for six when the reply began. But when he then played on, against Craig Miles, one big hope for the hosts had gone - and wickets kept tumbling with Payne having a field day.
"It's nice to get a win under our belts again after those two defeats," Cockbain said. "Michael has been batting brilliantly so it was good for the other guys to put their hands up today and post a big score."