Brendon McCullum stars as Middlesex crush Essex Eagles in T20 Blast clash

Essex's Dan Lawrence (left) was one of few bright spots in the defeat to Middlesex. Picture: PA SPOR

Essex's Dan Lawrence (left) was one of few bright spots in the defeat to Middlesex. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Brendon McCullum led from the front with an exhilarating 63 off 28 balls as Middlesex, who totalled 203 for 6, then dismissed Essex Eagles for 131 to win by 72 runs in front of a 27,000 sell-out crowd at a floodlit Lord’s tonight.

Middlesex captain McCullum smashed five sixes and six fours, was given fine support by a John Simpson half-century, and later – after Dan Lawrence had grabbed a T20-best 3 for 21 from his four overs – saw 26 runs plundered from the final over of the innings as Ryan Higgins, Tim Southee and James Franklin all hit the suffering Matt Dixon for sixes.

The win was a vital one for Middlesex, who before the game were level with Essex and two other counties on five points at the bottom of the NatWest T20 Blast’s South Group but now move up into the middle of a tightly-packed table.

Adam Wheater fell in the first over of Essex’s reply, spearing Tim Southee to cover point, and soon Eoin Morgan had claimed four catches in that position as Varun Chopra (9), Lawrence (29) and Ryan ten Doeschate (8) all picked out England’s one-day captain with lifted or mishit cuts.

Tom Helm, who ended with his and his county’s T20-best of 5 for 11, earlier removed Chopra with his second ball, while Steven Finn got his revenge for being swatted for two sixes by Lawrence and for conceding 31 runs from his first two overs and added Ten Doeschate’s scalp for good measure.

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By then Ravi Bopara had run himself out for 10, calling Ten Doeschate for a single that wasn’t there and failing to beat Simpson’s throw to the bowler’s end after being sent back, and when Ashar Zaidi skied George Scott’s medium pace to backward point to go for 2 the chase was all but over at 62 for 6.

James Foster offered some defiance with 50 from 25 balls, but Helm returned to have him, Paul Walter and Mohammad Amir all caught slogging desperately in the 15th over and, in his following over, the 23-year-old fast bowler made it four wickets in six balls by bowling last man Dixon.

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