Middlesex make a return to the picturesque out-ground setting of Radlett tomorrow where they’ll face current South Group leaders Somerset, who come to the Brunton Memorial Ground with a record of four wins from five matches played in the Royal London One-Day Cup!
Somerset’s previously unbeaten record was blown away by their West County rivals last time out however, when on Sunday Gloucestershire chased down Somerset’s total of 242 in the final over to secure an important four wicket victory and pull themselves back into contention to claim one of the knockout places up for grabs.
Prior to Sunday, Somerset had maintained a one hundred percent winning record in the competition, turning over Kent, Glamorgan, Sussex and Essex in their opening four games as they made the early running in the South Group, and they’ll be keen to get back to winning ways against a Middlesex side who will also head into the clash at Radlett on the back of a defeat themselves.
Middlesex’s hopes of qualification from the South Group took a significant knock at Lord’s against Sussex in their last One-Day Cup outing, where Luke Wright was the difference between the two sides, as the former England man smashed a record One-Day innings of 166 for Sussex to push the hosts to an above par total of 298. In reply, Middlesex never looked in the chase as they were dismissed for just 176 to slip to a 122 run defeat. This was Middlesex’s second defeat of the campaign, although it was the size of the defeat that was so crucial, denting their net run rate significantly. In such a tight group, run rates could yet become a major factor, so Middlesex will be looking to address this over the remaining three encounters.
That defeat to Sussex left Middlesex on six points, with three wins from five games played, alongside Gloucestershire and Sussex on the same points haul, with both Somerset and Hampshire two points ahead on eight. In such a tight group, another two wins are crucial for Middlesex at the very least if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for a knockout spot, and if that can come tomorrow against a strong Somerset side, then all the better, as Middlesex’s final two games are against the South Group’s bottom two sides, Kent and Glamorgan. Defeat tomorrow won’t put Middlesex out of contention, although it will certainly make their last two clashes ‘must-win’ games.
Middlesex will head to Radlett with changes forced upon them through international call-ups and injuries. Eoin Morgan, Paul Stirling, Tim Murtagh and Dawid Malan are all out on international duty – as England take on Ireland in Malahide on Friday, whilst Steven Finn misses out due to a right groin strain, which will keep him side-lined for up to four weeks.
Middlesex have named the following thirteen-man squad for tomorrow’s Somerset clash, with Stephen Eskinazi taking over the captaincy responsibilities in the absence of Dawid Malan…
Stephen Eskinazi (Captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)