The Specsavers County Championship returns this week as Middlesex take on Durham at Lord’s in the first of three crucial four-day encounters.
Middlesex head into the final three rounds of the first-class season in seventh place in the Second Division table, needing to overturn a gap of twenty-one points to Northamptonshire, who currently sit in the third and final promotion spot.
A disappointing result in Middlesex’s last four-day clash, down at Hove against Sussex a little over a fortnight ago, saw Stuart Law’s side lose inside three days and miss out on the chance to join the leading pack for the season’s run in. They’ll be keen to shake off any hangover from that performance and regain the kind of form that saw them comprehensively win their previous two Championship clashes against Glamorgan and Gloucestershire.
With qualification to the knockout stages of both white-ball competitions already secured, few could argue that progress has certainly been made this season under the new coaching partnership of Law and his Assistant Nic Pothas, although promotion to the top-flight of the Championship remains the club’s primary aim. Middlesex will need to be at their very best over the next three weeks if they are to meet that objective and will certainly have to win two and quite likely all three remaining matches to be a contender in the race.
Victory against Durham this week would certainly keep Middlesex in the hunt for a top three finish, although to make any significant move up the table this week they’ll also be reliant on results elsewhere doing them a favour. Wins for Worcestershire against Glamorgan, for Leicestershire against Northamptonshire and for Gloucestershire against Sussex would be the perfect scenario for Middlesex and could see them climb to as high as third in the table if they can secure a heavy haul of points from Durham this week! One simple fact remains however - Middlesex must win and must win well!
Middlesex announced earlier today that West Indies paceman Miguel Cummins has been added to the ranks for the final three Championship matches and Law will be hoping that his arrival will bring something different and will help freshen up his pace attack.
With Tim Murtagh picking up yet another five wicket haul for the Second Eleven last week and both Sam Robson and Max Holden also hitting hundreds against Derbyshire Seconds, those not actively involved in the Vitality Blast campaign have been making good use of their time outside of the first eleven and will be ready and raring to go at Lord’s this week.
Stuart Law has named the following fourteen-man squad for this week’s Specsavers County Championship clash with Durham…
Dawid Malan (c)
John Simpson (wk)
Spectators are reminded that all September County Championship matches will begin at 10.30am, with all subsequent sessions starting half an hour earlier than usual.
Spectators are also reminded of the ongoing works at Lord’s Cricket Ground at the Nursery End of the ground, which will have an impact on those attending the match this week. Please click HERE for full details of likely disruptions.