Whilst their place in the knockout stages of the competition was already secured, Middlesex’s NatWest T20 Blast defeat at the hands of the Essex Eagles last night in front of a packed crowd at Lord’s means that they now head to Bristol this evening to complete their South Group campaign having missed out on the chance of securing a home quarter-final tie.
Tonight’s clash against a Gloucestershire side, who themselves sit at the top of the South Group table, isn’t therefore the ‘winner-takes-all’ clash that Middlesex could have set up had they beaten Essex, although Dawid Malan’s men will be keen to finish their group campaign on a high, with a win, to take some momentum into the knockout stages of the tournament.
Middlesex will learn later tonight which of the top two sides from the North Group they will face away in the quarters, and a win tonight will give them plenty of belief that they can secure the victory they need in that one-off knockout game to reach the T20 Finals day for the first time since they won the competition back in 2008.
Standing in their way tonight are a side who Middlesex have yet to beat in the short format of the game in some nine matches, and with Gloucestershire sitting at the top of the South Group, having been the front runners since early in the campaign, Middlesex will know that they’ll be in for another tough test down in Bristol at the Brightside Ground.
Interviewed at Lord’s after last night’s defeat, Middlesex’s wicket-keeper batsman John Simpson believes that tonight’s clash with Gloucestershire will be a good test of character ahead of the knockout stages and will enable them to measure the progress his side have made this term...
“It’s a good game to have going into the quarter-finals. Gloucestershire have been pretty consistent all season and are a good T20 outfit. It will be a good gauge of where we are as a side but we fancy our chances in every game at the moment”
Middlesex were undone by a spectacular innings from Essex’s Ashar Zaidi last night, who plundered in incredible 59 off 24 balls to seal a last-over triumph for his side, and Simpson admitted his team came up just short.
“We were probably 10-15 runs light with the bat because it got harder to bat the longer the game went on.
“In T20 cricket one man can take a game away from you and that’s exactly what happened. If you don’t hit your skills, you can go all around the park. Credit to Zaidi but it’s something we can definitely learn from”.
Middlesex name a fourteen-man squad for tonight’s clash, led by Malan, although without batsmen Paul Stirling (shoulder) Eoin Morgan (chipped bone in finger), and paceman James Fuller (side strain), who all miss out through injury.
Dawid Malan (capt)
The match is scheduled to start at 6.30pm.