Umpire Sue Redfern makes Blast history as Gloucestershire brush aside Middlesex
Ollie Price produced a telling performance with both bat and ball to guide Gloucestershire to an emphatic seven-wicket victory over Middlesex in a match which saw umpire Sue Redfern make Vitality Blast history.
Redfern became the first female umpire to officiate on-field in a Blast fixture as she stood along with Alex Wharf at Bristol’s Seat Unique Stadium, where all-rounder Price led the way for the home side.
The 21-year-old top scored with 46 and shared in crucial partnerships of 60 with Miles Hammond and 52 with Zafar Gohar as Gloucestershire chased down a target of 140 with 10 balls to spare to register their second win in three days.
Middlesex have struggled to post big totals in the short format this season and this match was no exception, the visitors struggling to build meaningful partnerships and coming up short on 139 for nine after being put into bat.
Jack Davies hit a defiant unbeaten 46 and Max Holden contributed a valuable 34 for Middlesex, but veteran left-arm seamer David Payne claimed two for 21 and off-spinner Price two for 18 as Gloucestershire took wickets at regular intervals to keep a lid on things.
Victorious in three of their last four outings, improving Gloucestershire kept alive their hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages, but Middlesex already look down and out, consigned to the foot of the South Group after losing their opening six games.
Ben Charlesworth, promoted to open the Gloucestershire innings on the back of his record-breaking 19-ball 50 against Essex last week, was stumped off the bowling of Josh de Caires for 12 as the hosts lost their first wicket with 24 on the board in the fourth over.
Also pushed up the order, Hammond made a better fist of things as he scored a patient 34 to help guide his side to 84 for one alongside Price before the opener squirted a catch to extra cover off the bowling of Luke Hollman.
Price and Zafar continued to push Gloucestershire towards victory but, with just four more runs needed to seal the win and also record his maiden T20 50, Price attempted to achieve both with a single blow off Thilan Walallawita, only to over-balance and fall to a sharp stumping by Davies.
Left to finish things off, Zafar remained unbeaten on 37 from 22 balls, with a six and three fours, while skipper Jack Taylor hit the winning run.
Gloucestershire performed at the top of their game to reduce Surrey to 29 for four in the powerplay at Bristol 48 hours earlier, and although they unable to emulate that feat on this occasion, they began well enough after sending Middlesex in.
Payne had Stephen Eskinazi caught for one and the visitors slumped to 20 for two when Joe Cracknell hoisted Danny Lamb to square leg.
Holden made the most of a let-off, put down at point by Matt Taylor off Zafar with the score on 26, to join forces with Pieter Malan and take Middlesex to 45 for two at the end of the six-over powerplay.
But Gloucestershire continued to press hard and Price had Malan caught at long-on for a 19-ball 21 and Zafar bowled former team-mate Ryan Higgins for one as Middlesex, struggling to contend with spin from both ends, were reduced to 52 for four.
Holden’s dismissal at the hands of Price in the 11th over made it 76 for five and although Davies struck a rapid 46 not out, Middlesex were unable to reach 150.
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