McCullum leads Middlesex to T20 Blast victory

Middlesex 179-8 (20 overs): McCullum 88, Malan 33; Coles 4-32
Kent 163-8 (20 overs): Northeast 59; Higgins 2-22, Finn 2-26
Middlesex (2 pts) beat Kent (0pts) by 16 runs

Brendon McCullum rediscovered his touch with the bat to lead Middlesex to a much-needed victory over Kent Spitfires in the NatWest T20 Blast.

McCullum racked up 88 – his highest T20 score for the club – from just 51 balls, an innings that included six sixes and laid the foundations for their total of 179-8.

Despite half-centuries from Sam Northeast and Jimmy Neesham, that proved to be too many for Kent as the home side triumphed in front of a record Richmond crowd of over 4,000.

McCullum survived a couple of early chances on the off side after Middlesex had been put in to bat – and promptly took full advantage by blazing a string of boundaries.

Matt Coles (4-32) finally broke the opening partnership of 93 just after the halfway stage when Dawid Malan (33) was caught behind swishing on the leg side.

Paul Stirling struck 14 from nine balls before holing out to deep mid-wicket, but a shrewd spell of 1-22 from former England spinner James Tredwell (1-22) applied the brakes.

Middlesex looked well set at 156-2 – but McCullum was bowled by a full toss from Calum Haggett and, with Ryan Higgins (1) following in the same manner three balls later, the innings deteriorated.

Eoin Morgan (28) hammered successive sixes, but was caught attempting a third – and Coles did achieve a hat-trick in the final over as the home side scrambled to 179-8.

Kent made a disastrous start to the chase, slipping to 2-2 as Tim Southee trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond (1) leg before and Steven Finn (2-26) had Joe Denly (1) caught at slip.

Skipper Northeast led the visitors’ fightback with a spirited knock of 59 from 42 balls, adding 75 for the fourth wicket with Neesham.

Higgins (2-22) eventually made the breakthrough by taking a return catch off Northeast’s skier and the all-rounder also accounted for Neesham (52) as the Spitfires finally ran out of fuel.