A dominant display and comprehensive victory against Gloucestershire in the Specsavers County Championship last week got Middlesex right back into the promotion chasing pack in Division Two, and they’ll head to Cardiff for their next encounter high in confidence, looking to follow that up with a win against Glamorgan and secure back to back wins for the first time this year.
In a low-scoring affair at Merchant Taylors’ School last time out it was the re-emergence of Toby Roland-Jones that made all the difference as his ten-wicket haul and gritty, hard-fought half century was the difference between the two sides. The seamer looked back to his very best as he tore through the Gloucestershire line up, bowling with pace, aggression and accuracy, to secure career best first-class figures and then batted with composure to put on a match-winning partnership with Tom Helm.
Nineteen points from that last game took Middlesex from bottom of the pile to fourth temporarily, as other results were unfinished. The conclusion of those game the following day saw Middlesex settle in seventh place, sitting just 15 points adrift of Derbyshire, who reside in the third and final promotion place.
It’s only been three weeks since Middlesex last went head to head with Glamorgan, when at Radlett Stuart Law’s men were deprived of their chance to secure victory by heavy rain on the final day, with the Seaxes looking firm favourites to come out on top. The dominance of this display will give Law’s men plenty of hope that they can close the gap on those above the with another good performance at Sophia Gardens.
Glamorgan have Marnus Labuschagne to thank largely for securing the biggest batting points haul in the table to this point, 28, as the Australian became the first man in the country to pass 1,000 Championship runs recently, and currently leads the way on 1,057.
Two other imports in pacemen Michael Hogan and Marchant de Lange have posed Glamorgan’s biggest threat with the ball to date, with the former leading the way on 25 wickets and the latter on 22.
Roland-Jones missed out on the last encounter between these two sides at Radlett, and his return to form for this encounter could make all the difference. As could the full return of evergreen seamer Tim Murtagh, who flew back from Ireland to play a part in Middlesex’s last victory, playing the final three days and picking up yet another five-wicket haul.
Middlesex name a fourteen-man squad for the trip to Cardiff, with Steven Finn missing out as he recovers from a minor calf-strain. Martin Andersson also missed out, as he continues his recovery from a back operation, although two half centuries in the week for the Second Eleven for him show encouraging signs that he’s well on the road to a full recovery.
James Harris makes a welcome return to the squad, having recovered fully from the broken thumb he sustained in the clash against Sussex at Lord’s early last month.
Middlesex fourteen-man squad as follows:
Dawid Malan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)