Middlesex head to Edgbaston for the latest Specsavers County Championship clash of their season, to take on a Warwickshire side who remain at the foot of the Division One table. With Somerset, Middlesex’s hosts over the next four days are the only two sides yet to secure a victory in the Championship, and Middlesex will be looking to up their game and get back to their best, to ensure that Warwickshire’s unenviable record remains intact.
The Seaxes head to the Midlands having been beaten disappointingly by Essex at Chelmsford in their last encounter, under the floodlights in a day/night contest, when they succumbed to the exceptional spin of Simon Harmer on the final day of the match, as the South African finished with second innings figures of 9 for 95 from 46.4 testing overs of spin.
Middlesex’s defeat leaves them in sixth position in the table, on 72 points, 29 points ahead of Warwickshire, who sit rock bottom on 41 points – both sides having played seven matches. Still with a game in hand on the top four sides in the division, a return to form for Middlesex can see them move up the table ahead of Surrey, and close the gap on those above them.
Stand in Captain, Dawid Malan’s, honest assessment of the Chelmsford defeat was that his side had performed well below their best, and he is looking for his players to stand up and deliver at Edgbaston.
They will be boosted by the return of Sam Robson, who is named in the squad after missing the Essex clash whilst representing the England Lions against South Africa, with the former England opener in good nick, having hit 47 for the Lions yesterday and 159 in his last Championship innings for Middlesex at Lord's against Yorkshire.
A return to form for Nick Compton also offers a welcome boost for Middlesex, as the experienced top order batsman hit a season’s best knock of 120 at Chelmsford, in extremely tough conditions, when he looked every bit of the player we know he is. An in-form Compton offers stability and strength to the top of the Middlesex order, and alongside Robson, Gubbins and Malan, with Eskinazi, Stirling and Simpson in the middle order, the batting order immediately looks in healthier shape.
With the ball, the seam attack is also boosted by the return of Tom Helm, although Toby Roland-Jones is absent, with him being named in the England Test squad to face South Africa at Lord’s for the opening Test. Middlesex pick from Tim Murtagh, Steven Finn, James Harris, Tom Helm and Ryan Higgins in the seam department, with Ollie Rayner and Nathan Sowter preferred as the spin options.
Regular Captain James Franklin misses out again, resting up, to ease concerns over a back niggle.
Middlesex name the following fourteen-man squad for the trip to Edgbaston:
Dawid Malan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)