MIDDLESEX FIFTEEN MAN SQUAD AND PREVIEW OF SOMERSET ROYAL LONDON ONE-DAY CUP CLASH
Middlesex’s Royal London One-Day Cup campaign continues on Sunday 27th May with another away trip, this time down to the West Country, where they’ll take on Somerset in Taunton from 11am.
The Seaxes, under the new stewardship this term of Steven Finn, are in rich form at present and will head to the Coopers Associates County Ground having won their previous three fifty-over encounters, after following up their wins against Kent and Glamorgan with a comprehensive 74 run victory over Sussex in Hove on Friday afternoon. That latest victory saw Middlesex move into second spot in the South Group table at the halfway stage of the competition.
The last time Middlesex secured three back to back victories in the List-A format was back in June 2013 – surprising, given the depth of talent and quality on show within the club’s white ball sides in recent seasons. Consistency of performance has long been their Achilles heel however, although with Finn’s current side playing in the form they’ve shown to date, they’re going some way already to banishing that demon. Another two wins from the four games remaining should be enough to see Middlesex in the shake-up to qualify for the knockout stages of the List-A competition for the first time since they reached the quarter-final stage in 2009.
On Friday in Hove, Middlesex again, for the fourth time this campaign, found themselves batting first and setting a target, having been put in by the hosts. In response the Seaxes wasted little time in making the home skipper Ben Brown rue that decision.
Both Nick Gubbins and Paul Stirling came into the game in good form, the former averaging 42, the latter 51.33, and they quickly set about continuing that trend. Stirling batted magnificently to score his second century in under a week, a fine 116, whilst Gubbins played his part, hitting an equally impressive 86.
The pair again laid a winning foundation for Middlesex to build on, putting on a new record List-A opening partnership for the club against Sussex, 198 - surpassing the previous record of 160 set in 1999 by Justin Langer and Owais Shah at Arundel.
Gubbins, with three half centuries in four innings came away from Hove averaging 53, whilst Stirling, with two centuries to date is now averaging 67.50.
Having set Sussex a target of 289 for victory, Middlesex’s skipper Finn finally got due reward for his efforts this term, picking up 3 for 29 in nine quick and accurate overs, whilst Ravi Patel was again the stand-out bowler, picking up another 4 wickets to take his total to 11 in four games this term.
Whilst Middlesex will head to Taunton in fine form and high in confidence, their next challenge against Somerset will be anything but straightforward, and they’ll have to be at their very best to continue their hot streak. The West Countrymen have built a solid reputation as a white-ball side to be feared, although they come into Sunday’s game in indifferent form, having won two and lost two of their own opening four encounters.
Convincing victories in their opening two clashes against Surrey and Somerset were followed by defeat to Sussex earlier this week, before they were undone by Essex on Friday who beat them well in Chelmsford.
James Hildreth is the competitions’ leading run-scorer at this stage, with 305 runs to his name at an average of 101.66, whilst for Middlesex, both Stirling and Gubbins sit in the top ten, both having surpassed 200 runs, with Eoin Morgan just behind on 175 runs at 43.75.
With the ball Ravi Patel is now the competition’s leading wicket-taker with eleven, whilst Somerset’s Tom Groenewald leads their charge, currently on nine.
Middlesex have named an unchanged fifteen-man squad for the trip to Taunton to take on Somerset:
Steven Finn (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)