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Spitfires rout Middlesex in T20 opener
Spitfires rout Middlesex in T20 opener

Matt Parkinson claimed a hat-trick as Kent thrashed Middlesex by 98 runs at Chelmsford to open their 2024 Vitality Blast campaign with a win.

Parkinson, who made the move from Lancashire over the winter, shone for his newly adopted county, claiming the scalps of Jack Davies, Tom Helm and Henry Brookes in his third over on route to figures of 4-25.

It meant the hosts, playing the first of two home games at Chelmsford in this campaign were hustled out for 107 to fall way short of their victory target of 206.

Earlier, Joe Denly was the mainstay of Kent’s 205=8 with 56 in 33 balls complete with two sixes and seven fours. Daniel Bell-Drummond another man to be the scourge of Middlesex in the recent past provided good support with 38. Luke Hollman returned 3-27 and Blake Cullen 3-47 in his first match of the season.

Bell-Drummond and England opener Zak Crawley made an explosive start, each striking Cullen for huge sixes in the third over as they posted a 50-stand within 23 balls.

It took a super catch running back at mid-wicket by Leus Du-Plooy to end Crawley’s effort on 26, but Bell-Drummond continued the assault, pummelling Henry Brookes back over his head for six before being dropped by Joe Cracknell in the deep.

The miss wasn’t costly as Tom Helm pulled off a ‘Worldy’ in the next over diving full length at deep mid-on to send Bell-Drummond on his way for 38. It was the first of two in two balls for the impressive Hollman as Sam Billing suffered a first-ball duck. Hollman would snaffle a third when Tawanda Muyeye struck him straight to Cracknell to leave Kent 79-3.

Denly was though in no mood to see a collapse and played the innings of substance, striking the ball powerfully straight and employing the scoop to good effect in a well-paced effort. He was one of three late wickets for Cullen but nevertheless the target of 205 looked daunting.

Middlesex promoted Du Plooy to opener, but the move backfired as he fell for 11 bowled by Grant Stewart.

Ryan Higgins’ stay was brutal yet brief, one huge six followed by a mishit which ballooned to mid-off, Beyers Swanepoel the bowler to profit and skipper Stephen Eskinazi also holed out on the fence to give Stewart a second wicket.

Eyes were now on Max Holden who made 121 in the same fixture last season. There would though be no repeat as he drilled one straight to Crawley on the boundary at mid-off from the spin of Marcus O’Riordan and at 49-4 the hosts were in a mess.

Joe Cracknell down at an unfamiliar position of six rather than at the top of the order came and went bowled by Parkinson.

Davies blossomed briefly but then came Parkinson’s party piece to hasten the end of the rout.

Kent spinner Matt Parkinson said who took 4-25 said: “It’s my first professional hat-trick. It was fun and it is obviously nice to take wickets. It’s been a fairly tough start to the season, so I’ve earnt those wickets I think. 

“The first six overs we bowled fantastic. I thought the seamers were all fantastic. To have that start in the first six overs made mine and ‘Ray’s’ (O’ Riordan) job that much easier. 

“It was a fantastic performance. Zak and Deebs (Bell-Drummond) are absolute guns and so for those two to get 70 in the first six was brilliant.At one stage it looked like we weren’t going to get 200 but the way ‘Denners (Joe Denly) played was fantastic.” 

Middlesex head coach Richard Johnson said: “It was a disappointing evening. It looked a very rusty performance from us. We have tried over the last two years to play this attacking brand of cricket which we are working hard towards but sometimes when you you are chasing 200 on a decent pitch and you lose a couple of early ones our policy is to keep going.

“Sometimes in that situation you get bowled out where other times you get to that total. It’s not something we are going to stress about or worry about. It’s an under par performance and the first game in a 14 game series.”

On juggling the batting order he added: “My thinking is Leus (Du Plooy) is a world-class player. He opened the batting in the winter, it’s a position he wants to play and we want to give him a go up there. We think ‘Crackers (Joe Cracknell) can adapt lower down. We are stacking that top order where hopefully one of them stays in and goes big.”