Middlesex will return to Vitality Blast action tomorrow at a sold out Old Deer Park ground in Richmond, where they’ll take on a Somerset side who sit seventh in the South Group table, but come into the game off a comprehensive eight wicket victory against Surrey in Taunton last night.
Last time out Middlesex suffered a disappointing defeat against table-toppers Kent at Lord’s on Thursday night, where Head Coach Stuart Law was frustrated with an under par performance with both bat and ball from what was undoubtedly his strongest starting eleven. A lack of discipline with the ball towards the end of the Kent innings and a lack of partnerships with the bat cost Middlesex dearly - two things he’ll be looking for his side to improve upon tomorrow at Richmond.
Somerset’s form thus far can best be described as indifferent, with their win against Surrey last night coming off the back of three straight losses to Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.
The visitors batting line-up defies their form and place in the table, with plenty of talent throughout! An opening pair of Babar Azam and Tom Banton give them huge firepower up front, and with both batsmen having already passed 200 runs, Azam at an average of 65 and Banton at 43, Middlesex will be looking to get rid of the pair early tomorrow to alleviate the threat they both pose.
It’s with the ball that Somerset’s seventh place position becomes more understandable, as their leading wicket-taker, West Indian paceman Jerome Taylor, has just seven wickets at an average of 24 this term, with no other bowler having taken more than 5 wickets for the visitors.
Middlesex’s bowlers will need to be on top form tomorrow and Toby Roland-Jones (11 at 14) and Tom Helm (10 at 17), who lead the wicket taking charts for Middlesex, will be absolutely key to restricting the visitor’s charge with the bat.
Law will be hoping that his formidable batting line-up, including Malan, Stirling, Morgan and de Villiers all in the top five will have enough punch to put on a good total for the hosts and then rely on the bowling unit to do the business with the ball.
Tomorrow promises to be a terrific encounter, played out in front of a capacity 4,000 crowd, and Law has named the same squad for tomorrow’s clash as he did for the Kent clash at Lord’s earlier this week. A win for Middlesex will see them maintain their position in the leading pack at the top of the group
Middlesex’s fourteen-man squad is as follows:
Dawid Malan (Captain)
AB de Villiers
John Simpson (Wicket-keeper)
Mujeeb ur Rahman