Middlesex Head Coach Stuart Law has named a squad of fourteen for their opening Vitality Blast clash of the season against the Essex Eagles at Lord’s tomorrow evening.
Lord’s will be packed to the rafters for Middlesex’s opener, with an expected 28,000 crowd eager to see Middlesex’s short format campaign get underway at the Home of Cricket.
Earlier this week both of Middlesex’s overseas signings landed in the country, and South Africa’s AB de Villiers and Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman joined up with the rest of the Middlesex squad today, as they trained for the first time together at Merchant Taylors’ School.
The arrival of both overseas stars will add a further lift to the confidence of a Middlesex side already in high spirits, after securing recent back to back County Championship victories.
The experience of de Villiers, one of the game’s greatest ever players, and the exciting addition of the talented mystery spinner Mujeeb, will add plenty to this Middlesex side, who already showed an enormous amount of improvement in their fifty-over white-ball campaign earlier this season. There are plenty of signs that Middlesex fans could finally get to enjoy the white-ball revolution that they have craved for over 11 years since Middlesex last won the T20 competition back in 2008.
Dawid Malan will lead the side out tomorrow and his bowling ranks are boosted by the return of both Steven Finn and James Harris – both named in the squad after returning from recent injuries. They join the in-form pace duo of Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Helm – both who have been heavily in the wickets in recent games for Middlesex. Nathan Sowter is named alongside Mujeeb as Middlesex’s spin partnership, conjuring up memories of that brilliant spin due of Udal and Kartik who proved so effective in that successful campaign of 2008.
Signs that Middlesex’s batters are also hitting form also gives plenty of reasons for optimism, and whilst the transition from red-ball to white-ball couldn’t have come at a worst possible time for Middlesex, who would relish another four-day encounter right about now, Law is confident that his batters can adapt to the white-ball conditions and take that momentum with them into the Vitality Blast campaign. Eoin Morgan is rested for this clash in the wake up leading England to the World Cup last Sunday.
Any talk of this being Middlesex’s year is quickly put to bed by Law, as Law is focussing the players’ minds on one game at a time, with the visit of Essex tomorrow right at the forefront of their thoughts!
Middlesex’s T20 campaign last year saw Daniel Vettori’s side only scrape two wins together in the whole campaign, with twelve losses, and whilst a ball has yet to be bowled this year the early signs are definitely a lot more encouraging and heartening for Middlesex followers. Tomorrow night’s opponents, Essex, did the double over Middlesex last year, winning by three wickets early in the campaign at Lord’s and then by six wickets late on at Chelmsford. Middlesex will of course be desperate to reverse those results and improve on their last place finish in the South Group in 2018, whilst perennial white ball achievers Essex will also be looking to improve on last year’s disappointing effort, when they too only managed to win two games in the whole campaign, both against Middlesex, as they finished seventh in the table.
Middlesex’s fourteen man squad for tomorrow’s Vitality Blast opener is as follows:
Dawid Malan (Captain)
AB de Villiers
John Simpson (Wicket-keeper)
Mujeeb ur Rahman