Essex take Pro ARCH glory
Essex underlined their 50-over cricket pedigree by claiming their first trophy of 2009 with a five-wicket win over Middlesex in the Pro ARCH Trophy final in Abu Dhabi.
Excellent bowling from Tony Palladino, Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Westley kept Middlesex at bay, as the Panthers could only reach 235 for nine from their 50 overs in the final at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The Eagles batsmen then took over to ensure they chased down the target with 13 balls to spare and underline their status as present Friends Provident Trophy champions.
Essex overcame the early loss of skipper Mark Pettini to keep up with the required run-rate throughout their innings.
Jaik Mickelburgh and Matthew Walker put on 55 for the third wicket after Jason Gallian had contributed 35 to the total opening the innings.
Gallian hit two consecutive fours through long-on off Tim Murtagh and then played the same shot for the same result off Gareth Berg.
But Murtagh got his revenge when he trapped the veteran batsman lbw at the end of the 15th over.
Mickleburgh was excellently stumped by David Nash off Kabir Toor for 41, but Walker and ten Doeschate just carried on the mantle for Essex.
Walker, signed from Kent in the close-season, brought up his half-century with a four through long-off, at the expense of Malan, one of six in his 98-ball innings as he ended on 77 not out. His innings also included a six.
Danny Evans was the pick of the Middlesex bowlers, with 2-41 from his 10 overs, including ten Doeschate for 33 – his first score under 50 in the competition.
Earlier, Billy Godleman and Malan had continued their excellent tournament with the bat, scoring 38 and 40 respectively in Middlesex’s innings.
Godleman was unlucky to be run out by a direct hit from Mickleburgh at cover, as he attempted a quick single, after looking in good touch at the crease.
Jahid Ahmed and ten Doeschate took two wickets each, but it was the frugal off-spin of Westley and medium-pace of Palladino which really put Middlesex in trouble.
England Under-19 player Westley finished with 1-24 off his seven overs, while Palladino took 1-39 from nine, including that of Steven Finn who was the last wicket to fall.
The two teams were not helped by a vicious sandstorm which whipped up around the Sheikh Zayed Stadium with 10 overs of the innings remaining, making it hard to keep eyes open, let alone watch the ball.
Nevertheless, Middlesex's final score was under-par on a flat pitch which has seen bat dominate ball during the rest of the tournament.
And so it proved, as Essex scraped home, thereby starting the new season as they ended the last - with a limited-overs trophy in their cabinet.