Middlesex’s fifty-over campaign gets underway tomorrow with an away trip to Chelmsford where they’ll take on the Essex Eagles in their opening Royal London One-Day Cup clash of the 2019 season.
With the group stages of the fifty-over competition condensed into a tight block this year, the focus will be set firmly on the white ball format over the coming twenty days, as the County Championship is put aside and all eighteen counties cram their eight Royal London One-Day Cup group matches into the next two and a half weeks’ schedule!
A tough start away in Chelmsford is up first for Middlesex, where they’ll take on an Essex side who’ve made themselves perennial achievers in the fifty-over format. In all five of the seasons since the Royal London One-Day Cup came into existence in 2014 Essex have reached the knockout stages of the competition - although in each case have failed to make it to finals day at Lord’s.
In contrast, Middlesex’s fortunes couldn’t be any more different! Consistent under achievement in the longer of the white ball formats and a failure to ever progress out of the group stages of the competition is just one of many reasons Stuart Law has turned to his old West Indies coaching colleague Nic Pothas as his number two. Pothas has carved himself out a coaching career in the slightly less fashionable area of specialist fielding, although he is keen to point out that this is an area that can genuinely win you games, especially in white-ball cricket, and is an area where Middlesex can focus on making some major and crucial improvements.
You only have to see Pothas in action in pre-match warm-ups to see the reaction he’s already had on the players around him and to see the dynamism he’s brought to fielding drills and warm-ups. Taking this energy onto the field on play can only be a good thing for a Middlesex side, who on paper, look to have all the building blocks already in place of what should be a very strong fifty-over side.
Head Coach Stuart Law names a strong outfit for the trip to Essex and he’ll be looking to get things off to a flying start with a win against the Eagles. With such a tight schedule and with games coming thick and fast, momentum is more key than ever, so getting the campaign off to a winning start and going into a home clash against Gloucestershire two days later high in confidence is exactly what he’ll be looking for.
A Second Eleven white-ball friendly and two timely Second Eleven Trophy games this week have allowed some of the squad the opportunity to flex their fifty-over muscles ahead of the Essex clash, with George Scott benefitting with two brilliant knocks of 102 and 97 against Berkshire and Somerset, whilst Paul Stirling hit an impressive ton himself against Essex on Tuesday and Nick Gubbins a solid 92 yesterday against Somerset.
Law names a thirteen-man squad for the Essex clash, captained by Dawid Malan for the opener in Chelmsford…
Dawid Malan (Captain)
John Simpson (Wicket-keeper)