Radlett Cricket Club’s Brunton Memorial Ground hosts it's first ever Vitality Blast T20 encounter on Sunday, when Middlesex return to outground action against Gloucestershire, with the hosts looking to bounce back to winning ways after suffering a bruising defeat at Hove last night against Sussex.
Middlesex’s excellent recent run of successive victories was unceremoniously brought to an end last night by an unbeaten Sussex side who looked every bit worthy of their table-topping position as they moved two points clear of Kent in the South Group table and jumped into pole position to secure a place in the knockout stages.
After two comprehensive back to back victories against Somerset and Surrey this week, Middlesex went to Hove last night in good spirits and high in confidence, although on the night were largely outplayed by the South Coast side. Stuart Law’s men rarely looked in the fight, as the Sussex bowlers wasted no time in asserting their dominance. A disastrous start saw Law’s men in desperate trouble on 40 for 5 at the halfway stage of their innings, and it was to their credit that they showed lots of resilience to fight back to post a total of 127, which whilst significantly below par, it at least gave them something to bowl at.
In reply, Middlesex’s bowlers made the hosts’ batters work extremely hard for their victory, before they got over the line six wickets down with a couple of overs breathing room in the tank!
Whilst Law’s side will have left the South Coast last night deflated in defeat, they can come to Radlett with plenty of positives to take forward into the latter stages of the tournament - Eskinazi’s excellent unbeaten knock of 57, Roland-Jones coming into some form with the bat with a solid 40, and another impressive all-round performance from the bowling unit when defending an under-par total.
Against Gloucestershire Middlesex will again have their work cut out, as tomorrow’s visitors come to Radlett in great form, having already beaten Law’s men once this term in the reverse fixture at Cheltenham College, and having won their last two Blast outings against Kent and Surrey this week.
Middlesex sit third in the South Group table on ten points from eight matches players, just one point ahead of Gloucestershire in fourth and with just six games of the competition remaining, Law will be looking tomorrow for his side to ensure they bag the first of three victories that Middlesex will need to ensure a safe passage into the quarter finals. A win tomorrow against Gloucestershire would certainly help ease the pressure as the competition hots up and nears its conclusion.
Law makes a couple of changes to the squad that faced Sussex last night, with Eoin Morgan coming back in, having recovered from the sore back that kept him out of the clash in Hove. Dan Lincoln makes way and Max Holden retains his place in the squad, having initially been called in as cover for Morgan at Hove.
Middlesex’s fourteen-man squad is as follows:
Dawid Malan (C)
John Simpson (WK)
Mujeeb ur Rahman