Middlesex head to the south coast on Friday evening, to Hove, to take on the Sussex Sharks on the back of two successive victories in the NatWest T20 Blast, having followed up last Thursday’s nail-biting victory over Somerset at Lord’s with a convincing and dominant display at Canterbury to see off Kent at the St Lawrence Ground on Friday night.
That victory against Kent saw Dawid Malan’s men climb up to second place in the South Group table on nine points, behind only Glamorgan – at the time, the only side in the group to have won more games than Middlesex, although Gloucestershire have since joined Glamorgan on eleven points, with five wins, courtesy of their victory, against Sussex, at Hove last Sunday.
With Middlesex’s home clash with Sussex at Lord’s being completely washed out a fortnight ago, the Sharks and the Seaxes have yet to clash in the short format this year, although past year’s clashes have thrown up some great encounters between the two sides. None more so than last year at Hove, when a brilliant unbeaten century from Malan himself and a rapid 88 from Paul Stirling took Middlesex to their highest ever Twenty20 total – 221 for 2.
Never has the phrase leading from the front been more appropriate than with Malan this term, who looks to be relishing the responsibility of captaincy. In seven matches to date this term he has hit 253 runs at an average of above fifty, and is the club’s leading runs-scorer in the format by some distance.
Brendon McCullum’s stay with the club has now come to an end, with him departing last weekend for the Caribbean Premier League. He was delighted to sign off his T20 stint with the Seaxes with a swashbuckling unbeaten knock of 87 off 57 balls at Canterbury and will be hoping to get the chance to do it again, should Middlesex qualify for the knockout stages later this year. His place has been filled by Australia’s George Bailey, who arrived at Lord’s earlier this week. Bailey is set to make his debut for Middlesex at Hove on Friday, against Sussex, the side he represented in this competition last year.
With both Middlesex and Sussex sat in third and fourth place, on nine and eight points respectively, Friday’s clash could play a crucial part in deciding which teams ultimately qualify from the South Group.
The 14 man squad to face Sussex sharks is;
Dawid Malan (Captain), George Bailey, Stephen Eskinazi, James Franklin, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Ryan Higgins, Harry Podmore, Ollie Rayner, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson, Nathan Sowter and Paul Stirling..