Middlesex head into their penultimate Specsavers County Championship of the season against Lancashire tomorrow at Lord's with a much-needed victory the focus of their attention.
With just thirteen points separating the sides in third to seventh place in the Division One table, the fate of Hampshire, Surrey, Yorkshire, Somerset and Middlesex is still very much up in air as the season nears an exciting conclusion.
This time last year, the County Championship title was still up for grabs, with Middlesex, Yorkshire and Somerset all vying for the prize. Just one year on, and almost unthinkably, the same three sides, plus Hampshire and Surrey, are all searching hard for the points they need to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Lancashire's own dreams of lifting this season's County Championship crown ended abruptly last week as they were well beaten by seven wickets in Taunton by Somerset. Lancashire's loss became Essex's gain, as the Chelmsford based side continued their impressive form this season, picking up their eighth win in twelve games to be crowned deserved 2017 champions, sending Warwickshire down to Division Two in the process.
Middlesex will hope that this latest defeat for Lancashire, which ultimately put an end to their championship challenge, will have also knocked some wind out of their sails, as the Lancastrians now head to Lord's with nothing but pride and prize money to play for.
Middlesex's quest for much needed points wasn't helped at all last week, as with Lord's unavailable due to the final Test match of the summer taking place, they headed West, for an outground fixture at Uxbridge Sports Club, where fifteen consecutive days of rain had fallen in the build up to the game - which inevitably took its toll on the playing conditions.
Despite the Uxbridge ground-staff's best efforts, at times working in monsoon-like conditions, well over 250 overs play were lost in the game, leaving Richard Scott's side frustrated that they had no option but to play out a draw against Hampshire, despite having the upper hand in the play that did take place.
Middlesex can take plenty of positives from their performance at Uxbridge however, where the seam unit looked back to its penetrative best, demolishing Hampshire's batting line-up in just 36.1 overs for just 146.
Middlesex's ranks are bolstered this week, as they welcome back Toby Roland-Jones, Dawid Malan, Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling for the visit of Lancashire, which leaves Head Coach Richard Scott with a near full strength pack from which to select from for this crucial clash.
Middlesex have named the following fourteen-man squad for the visit of Lancashire...