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Roland-Jones hat-trick clinches County Championship for Middlesex on dramatic final day

Needing 240 to win from 40 overs, Yorkshire were bowled out for 178 with Roland-Jones picking up six wickets.

Toby Roland Jones Middlesex Cricket
Roland-Jones dismisses Andy Hodd enroute his hat-trick that sealed the match for Middlesex

Middlesex came out on top in the three-way battle for the 2016 County Championship involving Yorkshire and Somerset after a dramatic turn of events on the final day of the season saw them defeat two-time reigning champions Yorkshire by 61 runs. Toby Roland-Jones was the hero for Middlesex picking up six wickets including a hat-trick as they won the Championship going the entire season undefeated.

With Somerset thrashing Nottinghamshire to complete a 325-run victory on Thursday, the fate of the Championship was set to be decided on the result of the match between the other two other title rivals at Lord’s. Their hopes of clinching a first ever Championship title hinged on the hope that the match between Yorkshire and Middlesex would end in a draw and it seemed for a long time on Friday that would be the case before a dramatic turn of events late in the day. 

While Somerset were hoping to give their skipper Chris Rogers, who announced his retirement from first-class cricket after scoring twin centuries in his final game, a farewell sending off, Yorkshire were hoping to give their coach Jason Gillespie a memorable trip back home to Australia after announcing earlier that he would step down at the end of the current campaign. 

In the end, it was Middlesex who pipped them both to clinch their first Championship since 1993 and that too in some style as they came out of nowhere to deny their more fancied rivals. 

Resuming at the overnight score of 81/2, Middlesex made a good start to Day 4 with Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan completing their half-centuries. The former missed out on his second century getting dismissed for 93, adding 198 runs for the third wicket along with Malan after the scoreboard read 2-2 at one stage. 

Malan went on to complete his century and with Middlesex’s lead stretching over the 100-run mark, Yorkshire seemed to adopt a risky approach of letting a few easy runs to the opposition as they knew that both sides had to fight for a win to have any shot at the title. In the end, Middlesex declared their second innings at 359/6 thus setting up a target of 240 from 40 overs for Yorkshire. 

Needing to pick up ten wickets from 40 overs, Middlesex got an early breakthrough with Roland-Jones sending Adam Lyth back to the pavilion for 13. Tight bowling by the new ball bowlers ensured that the required run-rate escalated early on and the pressure showed as Alex Lees also lost his wicket with 39 runs on the board. 

David Willey followed soon after and Gary Ballance got the scoreboard ticking with a few good shots but he was also back in the pavilion being dismissed for 30 with the Yorkshire total reading 98/4. Tim Bresnan, who brought up his half-century of 44 balls seemed to be guiding Yorkshire back into contention but an unfortunate dismissal off Roland-Jones swung the match firmly in favour of Middlesex. 

He would go on to pick four more wickets in the match to finish with six wickets in the second innings, including a hat-trick that finished off the Yorkshire innings at 178 runs thus Middlesex a victory by 61 runs and thereby the 2016 County Championship. 

Brief scores: Middlesex 270 & 359-6 dec beat Yorkshire 390 & 178 by 61 runs

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