Sam Whiteman hit his maiden half-century for Northamptonshire to steer the county to their first LV= Insurance County Championship victory of the season against Middlesex.
The Western Australian Captain who lifted the Sheffield Shield just last month, played positively for his unbeaten 60, striking seven fours and a six as Northamptonshire reached their target of 119 with seven wickets to spare just before lunch.
Northamptonshire had resumed on 30 for the loss of one wicket needing another 89 more to record their first victory of the season. Middlesex needed to take quick wickets to give themselves a chance of winning and their hopes were raised when skipper Toby Roland-Jones removed Hassan Azad with just the second ball of the day. But despite conditions favouring the bowlers, only one further wicket fell before the hosts reached their target.
Conditions were testing early on and Middlesex’s bowlers worked hard, finding plenty of movement to restrict scoring and keep the pressure on the batting side who were repeatedly drawn into playing and missing outside off-stump.
Azad’s early departure, leaving a ball which nipped back and trapped him in front, brought together Northamptonshire’s Australian duo Whiteman and Chris Tremain. Tremain, who had come in last night to perform nighwatch duties, hit the first boundary of the day in the sixth over, but fell leg before wicket, shuffling across his crease to a ball from Ethan Bamber.
At that stage, Northamptonshire still needed another 67 to win but Whiteman took the attack to Middlesex, striking consecutive boundaries off Roland Jones, cutting him behind square and then clipping him through the on-side. He treated a short ball from Tom Helm with disdain, pulling it authoritatively for four before driving the same bowler through mid-off for another boundary.
Middlesex thought they had made the breakthrough when Whiteman cut Helm just short of gully on 32 but he continued to play freely, greeting the late entry of Luke Hollman by cutting the leg-spinner away for four and then pulling Helm for six before bringing up his half-century off 75 deliveries. He was well supported too by his captain Luke Procter who was happy to play the anchor role and finished 16 not out.
With just five needed to win for Northamptonshire, Middlesex turned to part-time bowler Sam Robson before Whiteman pulled him through midwicket for four to seal victory.