Both Middlesex and Yorkshire will head into their Division One Specsavers County Championship clash tomorrow at Lord’s, needing to pull on the respective strengths of their squads, with a high volume of players missing from both camps though international commitments.
This corresponding fixture last year, played out in quite incredible scenes at Lord’s in late September, provided the County Championship with its most thrilling finish for many a decade, as James Franklin and his men wrapped up the 2016 title in front of a huge crowd at the home of Cricket.
Whilst last season’s encounter will live long in the memories of both sets of fans, for very different reasons, that game doesn’t sit in isolation as the only outstanding contest between the two sides in recent times, with both 2015 and 2014 also conjuring up classics matches in their own right.
In 2015, despite Middlesex being bowled out for just 106 on the opening day, which saw Yorkshire retain the County Championship title at Lord’s, Middlesex put a dampener on the visitors’ celebrations when bouncing back in their second innings. They smashed the equal eighth highest first-class total in their history at Lord’s, 573 for 8, to wrap up a thrilling 246 run victory after then bowling out the newly re-crowned champions for just 134.
2014 was equally memorable, not least of all for the remarkable efforts of Middlesex opener Chris Rogers. Again, recovering from a first innings deficit, having been dismissed for just 123, Middlesex rallied to smash 472 in their second innings to wrap up an incredible seven-wicket victory. Having been set a hugely unlikely total to win the game, Rogers dug deep and batted through the Middlesex second innings, to finish unbeaten on 241, scored over 388 minutes, in an innings that included a remarkable 37 boundaries.
The fortunes of both sides this term, many of whom billed as the favourites to once again be contesting the title, have contrasted somewhat to this point, with 38 points and 5 places separating the two counties. Yorkshire, whilst suffering a surprise defeat in their opening encounter of the season against Hampshire, bounced back with wins against Warwickshire, Lancashire and Somerset, plus secured draws with Hampshire and Lancashire in the return fixtures. Middlesex, whilst also suffering just one defeat to date, have yet to secure the first win of their campaign, having drawn with Hampshire, Essex, Surrey and Somerset. Middlesex however do have a game in hand on the sides around them, and in such a tightly contested division, climbing back into contention remains firmly in their own hands.
To get back to winning ways James Franklin’s side will need to find the spark that he admits has been missing to this point in the season, although they’ll need to do so without the services of Adam Voges, who will miss the next month or more having returned to Australia to recover from a serious calf injury. Also missing from the Middlesex ranks are Dawid Malan, who has been called up to England’s squad for the forthcoming IT20 series against South Africa, and Tom Helm and Nick Gubbins, both who have been called up to the England Lions squad to face South Africa A.
Yorkshire themselves also come to Lord’s depleted by international commitments, with Liam Plunkett, Johnny Bairstow and David Willey all also featuring in the England IT20 squad, whilst England Test Captain Joe Root isn’t named in the Yorkshire squad for Lord’s having recently finished a heavy period of cricket with England.
Middlesex are however boosted by the return of Steven Finn, Nick Compton and Ryan Higgins, all who were missing for the recent defeat to Lancashire.
Middlesex’s twelve-man squad named for Yorkshire clash as follows:
James Franklin (captain)
John Simpson (wk)