Middlesex's Specsavers County Championship campaign continues this week with a crucial trip to Headingley in Leeds, where the defending champions will take on Yorkshire, in a game starting tomorrow and scheduled to end on Friday.
James Franklin's men come into the clash on the back of a drawn match at the Kia Oval, which ended in truly bizarre fashion. In surreal and worrying circumstances, the umpires were left with little option but to call an early abandonment to the clash, after a projectile in the form of a crossbow bolt landed on the square close to the players in the latter stages of the fourth day's play.
Middlesex showed plenty of resolve to dig deep in the game to bat themselves to a position of safety at the Oval, and can head to Yorkshire in good spirits, having displayed plenty of the fighting qualities, team spirit and togetherness that earned them so much success last season.
In a season that has undoubtedly been one of disappointment to date, Middlesex have lacked the consistency of performance they showed last term. Against a Yorkshire side who are in much the same position they'll need to show plenty of mettle to get things back on track at Headingley over the next four days.
Yorkshire head into the clash having lost their last two encounters in the County Championship, against Somerset and Essex, both at Scarborough, and the hosts' task to pick themselves up for this one could be the harder therefore, as they'll need to show all their fighting spirit to bounce back against Middlesex.
Middlesex currently lie in fifth spot in the table, on 106 points, whilst Yorkshire sit just three points behind them in sixth, both having played ten matches. A win for either side could see them climb as high as third in the table, depending on results elsewhere, whilst defeat would leave them looking worryingly over their shoulder towards the chasing pack, with just three matches remaining in the competition.
There have been some magnificent contests between these two sides in recent years, and with so much to play for at Headingley, there's every chance that another classic could be on the cards.
Middlesex have had by far the better of things between the two sides recently, having won five of the last seven contests, and having won the last four meetings. James Franklin and his men will be hoping for a repeat of the innings and 64 runs demolition of Yorkshire at Lord's earlier in the campaign.
Magnificent centuries from Sam Robson (159) and Paul Stirling (111) saw Middlesex take early control of the game, posting a dominant first innings total of 446, before a brilliant collective effort from the bowling unit then saw Yorkshire dismissed for just 208 and 174.
This week Yorkshire welcome Australian Shaun Marsh into their ranks, who is set to open for the hosts on debut, with Alex Lees more than likely vacating one of the openers' berths to make way, whilst the extent of Adam Lyth's involvement in the clash largely depends on the timing of the birth of his first child, which is due this week.
Yorkshire have named the following fourteen-man squad...
Gary Ballance (captain), Tim Bresnan, Jack Brooks, Ben Coad, Andrew Hodd (wicket-keeper), Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Shaun Marsh, Steven Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Ryan Sidebottom
Middlesex Head Coach Richard Scott has named the following fifteen-man squad for the clash...
James Franklin (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)