MIDDESEX NAME SQUAD OF FIFTEEN TO FACE SUSSEX SHARKS AT LORD'S IN VITALITY BLAST
Middlesex have named a fifteen-man squad to face Sussex Sharks at Lord’s tomorrow in the third South Group clash of the 2020 Vitality Blast, with young seamer Blake Cullen added to the squad of fourteen that faced Kent on Saturday.
Only yesterday it was announced that Cullen would be heading to the Kia Oval on a short-term loan spell of one week, to provide cover for Surrey’s depleted fast bowling ranks. He has however been recalled to Middlesex, as Stuart Law looks to keep his own seamers fit and strong throughout the Vitality Blast campaign, with the possibility of him utilising the same rest and rotation policy that served the club so well in the Bob Willis Trophy to ease the pressure on his pace unit.
Middlesex’s return to St John’s Wood last Saturday saw a thrilling clash unfold against Kent, as batting first, the Seaxes hit their joint tenth highest innings total ever, posting an impressive 209, as the batters enjoyed themselves on a great surface at Lord’s.
In reply, the Spitfires got off to an absolute flyer, smashing 85 off their opening powerplay,and looked set to overhaul Middlesex’s big total with ease, until some tight bowling in the middle to late overs from Finn, Cummins and Sowter wrestled some hope back for Middlesex.
It was left to Tom Helm to deliver the final over from the Nursery End, with the visitors needing just five for victory. A tight over saw Kent need two to win off the final ball to win, although they could only scramble a bye to secure a tie – only the third time Middesex have played in a tied T20 match.
Middlesex will take plenty of heart from the way they stuck to their task and fought their way back into the game, and there are plenty of positives to take into tomorrow’s encounter with Sussex. Stephen Eskinazi and Nick Gubbins found some great form with the bat, both hitting half-centuries, the former 84 off 52 balls and the latter 53 off 33. With the ball Cummins bowled aggressively and with good pace, as did Finn, who picked up two wickets and was the pick of the unit. Nathan Sowter’s spin again caused problems for the opposition, as did Nick Gubbins over of leg-spin, and the entire unit will have benefitted greatly from Saturday’s run out, blowing away some of the rustiness that was evident from a twelve-month absence in the short format of the game.
Captain Finn spoke after the game of his pride at how well his side had dug deep to stay in the game, praising the attitude of his players and their mental strength. He will however be looking for improvements in the field and in the bowling department for Tuesday’s return to Lord’s.
Sussex come to Lord’s on the back of a victory yesterday over Hampshire in Hove, where they chased down Hampshire’s total of 176 to win off the penultimate ball of the game. Luke Wright was the star in the Sussex line-up, hitting 82 off 55, whilst David Wiese batted with composure to time the chase brilliantly, finishing unbeaten on 43 from 31 deliveries.
That result leaves Sussex on top of the South Group on three points after just two games, although a Middlesex win tomorrow would see the Seaxes jump ahead of them on four points and remain unbeaten after three rounds.
Middlesex name the following unchanged fourteen-man squad for the Sussex clash...
Steven Finn (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)