After last week’s thrilling victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road Middlesex return to Lord’s this week for another crucial Specsavers County Championship encounter.
In opposition will be the division’s form side, Sussex, who come to the Home of Cricket on the back of a run of four straight wins in the Championship – a run that has seen them surpass Kent and move into second place in the Division Two table.
Middlesex’s victory over Northamptonshire last week was anything but straightforward, as having been outplayed for large parts of each of the opening two days of the match, the Middlesex spark ignited on the third morning as Dawid Malan’s side began to fight their way back into the clash.
Following on, trailing by 159 runs, Middlesex set about reducing the deficit and building a lead to at least give themselves something to bowl at in the fourth innings! By the end of the third day, a day completely dominated by Middlesex, they’d built a lead of 215 runs, which ultimately proved enough, as the hosts were dismissed for just 184 to see Middlesex wrap up an unlikely victory - the first time they’d won following on since 1924 and only the fifth time in club’s history.
Back to back victories see Middlesex coming into the game with some confidence and winning momentum, like Sussex, and in what looks to be another crucial clash, Middlesex will need to be at their very best and call upon all the resolve they showed up at Wantage Road if they are to come away with another victory this week at Lord’s to keep themselves right in the hunt for promotion.
With two sides gaining promotion to the top flight come the end of September, avoiding defeat for Middlesex is crucial this week, whilst Sussex could possibly still afford a slip up, so whether this affects the approach both sides have to the game remains to be seen. Whichever way it unfolds, Head Coach Richard Johnson will certainly be hoping his side can get off to a much better start on the opening two days of the game at Lord’s to put themselves in a strong position come the business end of the clash on days three and four.
Having impressed with four wickets on debut last week, Ethan Bamber is again named in the squad, although the ever-reliable Tim Murtagh misses out on this week’s clash – away with Ireland, as is Paul Stirling.
Steven Finn makes a welcome return to the squad however, having recovered from a knee problem, and the club’s leading wicket-taker, James Harris, is set to spearhead the pace attack again, looking to build on the 45 wickets he’s already picked up this term.
George Scott drops out of the squad named up at Wantage Road, as he is unable to bowl after picking up a minor side strain, although whilst unable to bowl, he is playing this week as a batsman with the second eleven at Radlett. Martin Andersson is added to the squad – offering Johnson another all-rounder option in the ranks in Scott’s absence.
Middlesex have named the following thirteen-man squad for the Sussex clash:
Dawid Malan (captain)
Robbie White (wicket-keeper)