Middlesex win promotion play-off
Middlesex 151 for 4 (Joyce 42) beat Northamptonshire 148 (Sales 70, Wright 3-29, Finn 3-30) by six wickets with 22 balls to spare
The match was all but over within an hour as Middlesex's seamers blasted through the Northants top order, justifying Ed Smith's decision to bowl. Some excellent close catching supported the bowlers, and in a six-over spell Steve Finn and Chris Wright took 5 for 25 to leave Northants 59 for 6 in the 15th over. Only a super rearguard 70 from David Sales took the match into the late afternoon.
A brilliant one-handed catch by Ben Scott, the wicketkeeper, started the rot in the first over to remove Robert White, but Andrew Cook and Nicky Boje appeared to have weathered the storm before Finn and Wright got going. Another excellent catch - Andrew Strauss leaping to hold the ball one -handed high above his head in the gully to remove Boje - set the slide in motion. Middlesex bowled well, Man of the Match Finn especially, but the batsmen contributed to their own problems.
Sales was a lonely figure amid the carnage. But he manipulated the strike and in Graeme White and David Wigley finally found some support. Middlesex kept close catchers in to support their spinners, Murali Kartik proving almost impossible to get away and getting turn and considerable bounce.
Sales brought up his fifty - at a run a ball - with a crisp straight drive off Jamie Dalrymple and then lofted the next delivery, a half-volley, for six over straight midwicket. But he was fighting a lone battle and Middlesex, having done the damage early on, were content to allow three or four singles an over. Sales was the last man out with more than four overs in hand.
Middlesex, needing less than four an over, could take their time and, initially, they did, brushing aside the early loss of Ed Smith to cruise to 60 for 1. Strauss and Ed Joyce fell in quick succession, and Northants were still in with an outside chance when a horrible misjudgment from Dalrymple - padding up to Graeme White's arm ball - gave them an outside chance at 114 for 4.
In the next over Lance Klusener bowled Nick Compton only for the umpire to call a no-ball; Compton paddled the resulting free hit down to long leg for four and that was just about it, and with Eoin Morgan in good touch, Middlesex eased home with 22 balls in hand.