Another thrilling game at Lord’s this week saw Richard Johnson’s side win their third consecutive clash in the County Championship and lay down some serious claims for a late season promotion push.
Under Johnson’s guidance as Head Coach the side maintained their one hundred percent winning record, and despite not being at their best for large parts of the game, were able to secure a comprehensive win with more than a day of the game unused.
In difficult conditions at Lord’s, on a track that was far from conducive to free-flowing run scoring, Middlesex dug deep and secured a battling win against an in-form Sussex side who hadn’t been beaten in any of their four previous Championship matches and going into the game were sitting in second place in the table.
Whilst last week’s victory saw Middlesex climb ahead of Leicestershire and move from fifth spot to fourth in the table. They still trail Kent in second spot by 32 points, although with a game at Lord’s next week against Kent still to come, Middlesex have hit form at the right time to mount a late season push and will be brimming with confidence from their turnaround in form.
Prior to that though Middlesex must remain focussed and they head to Bristol to take on Gloucestershire tomorrow, who themselves secured an important win last week, when dismissing Leicestershire for just 111 and 165 in their two innings to wrap up a comprehensive 328 run win. An unbeaten 214 from Chris Dent in Gloucestershire’s second innings total of 402 for 4 hinted towards better batting conditions down in Bristol, although with the other three innings averaging less than 160 each, there’ll clearly be plenty on offer for the bowlers too and the batsmen will certainly have to work hard for their runs.
Captain Dawid Malan battled for some form against Sussex and will be all the better for the four hours or more he spent at the crease for a fine 70, whilst ten boundaries in Stephen Eskinazi’s knock of sixty also showed signs that he too is finding the middle with more regularity. The hour and a half spent at the crease by Eoin Morgan cannot be underestimated either, and whilst not rewarded with a heavy weight of runs, was a crucial component in Middlesex’s victory. In a season that has seen Middlesex secure only eight batting points all campaign, a timely return to form from those in the top and middle order could be just the tonic Middlesex need to aid and assist their hopes for promotion.
Head to head, both sides have struggled for batting points this term, and of the two sides only Nick Gubbins is averaging over 40 with the willow this term, although Gloucestershire’s James Bracey and Chris Dent are well ahead in the run scoring, on 688 and 681 respectively, compared to 473 and 454 from Middlesex’s top scorers of Eskinazi and Max Holden.
With the ball Middlesex’s James Harris and Tim Murtagh lead the way on the wicket-taking front – the former with 51, the latter with 42, whilst for Gloucestershire former Middlesex man Ryan Higgins leads the way with 39, supported by Craig Miles with 34 and Matt Taylor with 31.
With ground still to make up on the sides above them, to turn any promotion hopes into reality, Middlesex must perform in every game, and a win down in Bristol is crucial to maintaining the pressure on those above them! Taking form and winning momentum into the game, they’ll be confident in being able to maintain that winning run this week.
Middlesex are boosted by the return of Irish duo Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling, who come back into the squad having completed their international spell with Ireland, giving Richard Johnson plenty of options on the selection front ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
He has named the following fourteen-man squad for the clash in Bristol…
Dawid Malan (captain)