Middlesex name squad of twelve 12 to face Somerset and Lancashire on Sunday at Widnes Cricket Club for the second round of T20s
Seeking a successful trip up north under stand-in captain Naomi Dattani, Middlesex have named a similar squad to that which enjoyed an emphatic nine-wicket win over Sussex and lost by one run in a nail-biter to Yorkshire.
In the bowling department, Middlesex will look to the spin and seam duo of 18-year-olds Sophia Dunkley and Gayatri Gole, born just six days apart. The pair applied pressure to Sussex, building dot balls to claim three early wickets. Dunkley had their captain caught for three runs, and Gole dismissed their number two and four batsmen as Sussex were left reeling at just 4-3 after four overs. In her first county outing since the beginning of May, Dunkley’s presence was immediately noted and welcomed.
Dattani will also look to the leg-spin of Emily Thorpe who bowled well in the opening T20s, claiming her first two senior XI wickets including 1-9 from her four overs against Sussex. Thorpe could bowl in tandem with off-spinner Beth Morgan to dry up the runs and force the batsmen to play attacking shots.
In terms of seam bowlers, Middlesex have Milly Pope returning after a back injury and aiming to make an impact in her first T20 league outing this summer. Pope bowled well in the one-day match against Lancashire at the start of the season, claiming 2-33 from her ten overs which included three maidens. Dattani, Catherine Dalton and Katie Wolfe are three other pace options and will likely bowl if the batsmen are struggling against seam.
In the batting department, Dattani will need a new opening partner in Natasha Miles’ absence, and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod. Dattani found form against Sussex, scoring a boundary-filled 33, and will be keen to lead from the front at Widnes. Dunkley is a potential opener who has filled this role in the past, notably in a rain-affected match in 2015 when she hit a match-winning 66 not out off 46 balls. The experienced Morgan is another option who has once again been the lynch-pin of the batting order this summer. Morgan has scored 206 runs at an average of 34.33, with a top score of 80 in a one-day game against Yorkshire.
Two other batsmen who have found form are Dalton and wicketkeeper Amara Carr. Though their efforts against Yorkshire were in a losing cause, Dalton showed she is an attacking player and can score quick runs as she hit 32 from 22 deliveries. She found the boundary on four occasions and also ran well between the wickets. In her first league outing for Middlesex with bat in hand, Carr scored a run-a-ball 15, demonstrating her ability to work the ball around looking for quick singles and twos.
Middlesex’s first opponent is Somerset, also chasing their second win of the competition. Key players for the western side include England Women’s Senior Academy (EWSA) representative and skipper Sophie Luff, Nicole Richards and Megan Hodkinson. Luff has led from the front with the bat, amassing 406 runs at 81.20 across both formats for Somerset. The number three will certainly be looking to continue her successful summer, and is a batsman Middlesex will aim to keep off strike or dismiss early. Leg-spinner Richards is Somerset’s leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps at 13.67, and has also proved to be handy with the bat, scoring 148 runs at 24.67. Hodkinson is another bowler who will be important for Somerset and has claimed 11 wickets at 10.91 this season.
Lancashire have been strong in both formats to date and have named a strong squad. England fast bowler Kate Cross and four EWSA players in Sophie Ecclestone, Evelyn Jones, Emma Lamb and Ellie Threlkeld are all included.
The Red Roses won both their T20s in the opening round of the season and Jones carried her one-day form through to the shortest format of the game. She hit 40 (39) against Kent in their first match of the day, an innings which included four fours and a six, sharing an 81-run stand with Lamb. Fellow EWSA team-mate Lamb hit 33 in the same match and will be looking to continue her form on home turf.
With ball in hand, Lancashire will look to Rachel Dickinson’s medium-pace and Ecclestone’s left-arm spin which saw her earn an England debut against Pakistan last summer. Ecclestone has claimed an impressive 21 wickets at just 8.76 this season for Lancashire, including 3-6 against Kent in the opening round, and is a bowler Middlesex will need to negotiate carefully. Dickinson has picked up 10 wickets at 16.50, nine in the 50 over format and will aim to translate her form to the T20 game. Cross performed well in the Red Roses’ T20 against Berkshire, claiming 2-12 from her four overs, and will look to carry that form through to this round. Off-break bowler Lamb looks set to be a second key spinner for the hosts after taking 4-15 and 2-11 in the opening T20s.
Middlesex play Somerset at 1:30pm, followed by hosts Lancashire at 4:30pm at Widnes Cricket Club.
Preview provided by Middlesex Women's Content Co-ordinator, Georgia Isaac.