Middlesex face Sussex tomorrow night at Lord’s when they head back into the NatWest T20 Blast with their fate in the competition lying firmly in their own hands, as anything less than four wins from their remaining four matches will all but put an end to any hopes the club has of achieving qualification for the quarter-final stages of the competition.
Currently sat on eight points from ten matches played in the South Group, another four wins for Middlesex from their final four clashes will take them to sixteen points – one more than the total tally that secured them a quarter-final berth against Northamptonshire in last year’s competition. In what is again shaping up to be a closely fought South Group, sixteen points should prove to be enough to progress to the knockout stages this time round.
They’ll need to pick themselves up after what was a disappointing T20 Blast defeat at Lord’s last Thursday, where they went down by six wickets to Hampshire. International commitments and injuries forced Middlesex to make huge changes to their side for that match, with Head Coach Daniel Vettori giving three players their first appearances of the campaign.
Vettori will however have taken plenty of heart from the performances of those players coming in, as Tom Barber looked perfectly at home on his debut for the club, bowling with plenty of pace, penetration and aggression, whilst Stephen Eskinazi top scored for Middlesex with the bat, hitting a fine 43 off just 27 balls. Both are named again in Middlesex’s squad to face Sussex tomorrow.
Middlesex’s cause is now further hampered by yet more injuries, with opener Nick Gubbins going down to a hamstring injury during the four-day clash against Warwickshire this week, whilst Adam Voges’ had to sit the same game out, pulling up injured in pre-match warm-ups. Both played against Hampshire, but are forced to miss the Sussex clash.
With more injuries and international commitments still depriving Vettori of his full-strength side, he’s once again forced to shuffle the pack when naming his squad for tomorrow night’s visit of Sussex.
The club will however take plenty encouragement from the return of big hitting Irishman Paul Stirling, who returns to the squad, having recovered from the calf injury he picked up against Surrey at the Oval earlier in the competition, and Steven Finn, who returns to the side following his call up to the England Test squad. Also re-joining the side will be danger-man Tim Southee, who returns to finish his overseas spell with the club, with him unavailable for the last T20 Blast clash.
Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones are however unavailable for selection at the request of England.
Middlesex name the following twelve-man squad for the visit of Sussex:
Eoin Morgan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)