Batty and Hamilton-Brown seal thumping victory
Surrey 130 for 1 beat Middlesex 128 for 9 by nine wickets
Middlesex's Adam Gilchrist-inspired resurgence came to an abrupt end as they disappointed a big Lord's crowd with an abject batting performance against local rivals Surrey.
Following Gilchrist's elevation to captaincy, Middlesex have won three games on the bounce but today it was a captain at the opposite end of his career, 22-year-old Rory Hamilton-Brown, who impressed ending unbeaten on 73 to seal a comfortable nine-wicket victory.
For the crowd who arrived at a sun-drenched Lord's to see one of the season's marquee fixtures, it was a drab show. Plenty was expected from the big-hitting and big-money Australian duo of Gilchrist and David Warner but the crowd were instead treated to a farcical spectacle where Owais Shah had to decline singles throughout the last five overs in order to protect No. 11 Pedro Collins and see out the 20 overs.
Thanks to an array of thoughtless shots from those around him, Shah had little choice. The pitch may have offered some spin but the Middlesex batsmen could only blame themselves as they came and went in a procession.
The innings brightly when Warner muscled successive fours and then a six, scattering the crowd in the second tier of the stands at midwicket, off Andre Nel's first over. But two balls later he was out, miscuing an ugly heave to Andrew Symonds at cover, which set a suicidal tone that Middlesex were unable to escape from.
Gilchrist was marooned at the non-strikers end, facing one ball in the first three overs, and watched a skittish innings from Neil Dexter come to a predictable end when an ambitious drive off Chris Tremlett skewed gently to mid off. When he finally did get to face, Gilchrist picked up a length ball on leg stump off Tremlett and deposited it into the midwicket crowds. Two overs later, however, it was all over has he top-edged a sweep down to long on to become the first of four victims for Gareth Batty.
Wobbling at 48 for 3, the home side needed a period of quiet consolidation. Instead there were two soft dismissals as Dawid Malan and Scott Newman donated their wickets to Symonds. It left Shah watching the lower order fall and he was unable to either work twos or find the boundary in the closing stages, as the last five overs yielded a paltry 25.
Though early wickets may have given Middlesex hope, especially since Surrey's batting has been insecure all season, they never looked in contention. Gilchrist tried all he could to rouse his men; cajoling, clapping and reprimanding endlessly, but was unable to sprinkle his stardust on any of the bowlers.
Instead Hamilton-Brown played an array of crisp drives and pulls, including a six that matched Warner's for power and distance, rocketing into one of the corporate boxes. Steven Davies offered a glimpse of his good form this season, hitting a front-foot pull through mid on off Collins that was almost reminiscent of the Middlesex captain, before limply chipping Tom Smith's left-arm spin to cover.
With 50 up by the end of the Powerplay, Hamilton-Brown and Mark Ramprakash could afford to knock the ball around quietly. There was a three-over period which cost just 13 when Shaun Udal partnered Smith, but just when Middlesex threatened to build some pressure, Hamilton-Brown broke the shackles with a six that cleared long off.
From then on the game was a formality. In a chanceless 96-run stand with Ramprakash, Hamilton-Brown passed fifty off 36 balls and fittingly thumped an extra-cover drive to seal victory with three overs to spare.
Sahil Dutta is assistant editor of Cricinfo