If it was frequently tedious and inevitably low scoring it ended with a flourish. Suffering another severe case of floodlight intervention, Middlesex dropped three crucial catches to lose against Trinidad & Tobago last night and with it $180,000 in prize money.
T&T, the West Indies Twenty20 champions, beat their English counterparts by five wickets with four balls left after a well-judged, if slightly fortuitous stand of 67 between Darren Bravo (27no) and Denesh Ramdin (41) which negated Neil Dexter's belatedly heroic efforts for the English county in the most authentic match of an odd cricketing week.
The pitch was awful, the batting matched it for long enough, the bowling did not. Nothing, save the Double Helix, is more difficult to explain than the mind of a professional sportsman but when an idea takes hold it exerts a vice-like grip.
Middlesex's batsmen, rightly convinced that the surface would yield few favours, were bamboozled. Those of Trinidad & Tobago were their equals in dumfoundedness. What a sorry spectacle of batting it made, how interminable Twenty20 can seem.
But credit to the bowlers – and please none of those age-old grievances when it becomes, as it will, a batsman's game again. They did what they had to do. Ravi Rampaul was their most menacing but their three spinners all performed the task of suffocation with expertise.
T&T, well accustomed to the wretched conditions here, opened with a flat spinner and had plenty more where he came from. But it was the impressive and intelligent Rampaul, who inflicted early and late damage, demonstrating the virtues of bounce on the corrugated surface.
Between times it was often turgid. Middlesex, creasebound, were a miserable 40 for 4 after 10 overs, 59 for 5 after 14. It was Dexter, their new signing, who pulled them round. He decided to use his feet, and old-fashioned idea that worked delightfully.
Still hardly fireworks but it was thoughtful ambition and Dexter struck three sixes using his feet adeptly and two of the innings' six fours.
The late seventh wicket partnership of 29 from 18 balls between Dexter and Ben Scott was crucial. There was an urgency that had been lacking before, there had to be. And such is nature of this form of the game that T&T's spirits shifted discernably.
Instead of chasing perhaps 100, they needed 118 to win the clash of the domestic champions. They too began dreadfully against the new ball with both Tim Murtagh, holding on to a rasping return catch, and Neil Carter, striking early. Immediate rebuilding was necessary and achieved.Reuse content