Middlesex today named a thirteen-man squad to travel to Grace Road to take on Leicestershire in the Specsavers County Championship this week.
After securing their first four-day victory of the season at New Road against Worcestershire two weeks ago, there were plenty of positives for Middlesex to build on as they returned to St. John’s Wood last week for a home tie against Jason Gillespie’s Sussex at the Home of Cricket.
What unfolded at Lord’s however was a frustrating encounter where Stuart Law’s side were out-played for large parts of the game, with the visitors securing a well-deserved innings victory, despite losing almost the entirety of the third day of the match to rain.
A brave and battling final day at the crease almost salvaged Middlesex an improbable draw before Sussex agonisingly secured the win deep into the final hour of the match to smash Middlesex’s resolve, nullify the positives the hosts had grabbed from a spirited final day fight-back, and condemn them to their second home red-ball defeat of the season.
Dawid Malan’s men will have had their pride dented and bruised by that Sussex defeat, and Head Coach Stuart Law will be expecting nothing less than a character defining positive response from his squad when they head into battle with Leicestershire for what on paper should offer them a really good opportunity to bounce right back!
Middlesex are forced to make changes to their squad for this week’s trip to the Midlands, with in-form all-rounder James Harris missing out having suffered a broken right thumb against Sussex, and off-spinner Ollie Rayner also absent having departed Lord’s for Kent on a long-term loan at Canterbury.
Law’s squad is however buoyed by the return to fitness of pace duo Tom Helm and Steven Finn - who are named in his thirteen-man squad, as is Irish powerhouse Paul Stirling, who comes into the squad after a long-term absence on International duty and could provide the answer to Middlesex’s shortage of first innings runs. The Ulsterman will be hopeful of an opportunity to further establish his red-ball credentials, having yet to make a start in the Championship under Law’s stewardship. Also recalled to the squad is all-rounder George Scott, fresh from having hit 160 for the seconds against Essex at Bishops Stortford this week, whilst young seamer Ethan Bamber rotates out for this one.
At Lord’s just under a month ago MIddlesex and Leicestershire played out an intriguing and well-matched draw, in a see-saw clash which either side could have won on the final day of the game. Both sides had the chance to do so taken away from them, with the weather gods having other plans, as set a target of 305 to win Leicestershire’s chase finally came to an end 79 runs short of victory, 5 wickets down under drizzly and gloomy floodlit skies.
Leicestershire find themselves sat one place and two points above Middlesex in the Division Two table on 47 points, with an identical playing record of one win, two draws and two losses from the five games they’ve both played. Despite securing just one win to date, the gap to the promotion spots remains less than thirty points, and a win at Grace Road will bring either side right back into the mix at the right end of the table.
Stuart Law names the following thirteen-man squad for the trip to Leicester...
Dawid Malan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)