Middlesex’s 2018 season gets under way tomorrow at Merchant Taylors’ School, where the Seaxes will take on Durham MCC University in a three-day first-class fixture in Northwood - they have named a thirteen-man squad for the encounter.
After a successful pre-season tour in South Africa, the squad returned to the UK a fortnight ago to somewhat less clement weather conditions and have endured a frustrating pre-season on home soil since.
Persistent rain and even snow have restricted Middlesex’s pre-season preparations to net practice in the club’s outdoor marquee, erected at Merchant Taylors’, with three pre-season friendlies against Durham, MCC Young Cricketers and Hampshire all falling foul of the weather in the last week and a half.
Plans for the season ahead have also been hampered by the significant losses of both Nick Gubbins and Eoin Morgan to injury, who both miss out, with the former suffering a hamstring strain and the latter a broken thumb. Dawid Malan’s forced absence after a lengthy winter away with England is also a loss to the Middlesex top order as he too sits this one out.
On the plus side, newly signed young Australian top order batter Hilton Cartwright is included in tomorrow’s squad and could make his Middlesex debut, and he joins Sam Robson, Stephen Eskinazi, John Simpson, George Scott and youngster Max Holden as the batsmen named in the squad for the next three days’ encounter.
Whilst Robbie White has made six first-class appearances for his Loughborough University side, he has yet to make a first eleven appearance for Middlesex in any format and having also been named in the squad could well get his opportunity to make his Middlesex debut this week.
Despite Harry Podmore’s departure to Kent earlier this week, Middlesex will head to Merchant Taylors’ with their usual strong seam attack on display, with James Harris, Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Helm, Tim Murtagh and Tom Barber all named as the seamers in the squad, with Ollie Rayner the preferred spin option.
The weather is set fair for Saturday and Monday, although if the forecasters are to be believed, Sunday looks likely to be interrupted by rain at some point. Whatever cricket is played over the next three days at Merchant Taylors’, it will definitely offer valuable and much needed time in the middle for the batsmen and get overs into the legs of the bowlers ahead of next week’s first County Championship clash of the season at home at Lord’s against Northamptonshire.
Middlesex thirteen-man squad
Sam Robson (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)