After yesterday’s thrilling two-run win in the Vitality Blast against Kent Spitfires at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury, Middlesex Head Coach Stuart Law has named an unchanged squad to travel south to face Sussex in Hove tomorrow.
The trip to Sussex offers Middlesex the opportunity to secure the second of the three wins they needed this week, to give themselves any chance of making the quarter finals at the end of the month.
Yesterday’s win in Canterbury, combined with Surrey beating Sussex, and results going Middlesex’s way in the North Group, all mean that a tally of twelve points in the South Group will be enough to guarantee qualification, leaving Law’s side with the task of beating Sussex tomorrow and then travelling along the South Coast to dish out the same treatment to Hampshire on Sunday at the Ageas Bowl!
A quarter final outing for Middlesex this summer would be due reward to Stuart Law, who has been brave in his selections all year, giving five youngsters their debuts in both the shortened red and white ball campaigns.
To their credit, those youngsters have all stepped up and done Law proud, and under the experienced head of Steven Finn, they are not only thriving, but are making the difference, as Law’s side look fearless in their approach to the game. The down side of youth, is lack of experience, which has led to some inconsistency in performance, however with Finn at the helm, and with the addition of senior players around him to guide those youngsters through, when Middlesex are on song, they look capable of doing some really special things in this format of the game.
Yesterday, against Kent, it was a perfect blend of youth and experience that undid the hosts, as the exuberance of youth shone through as Joe Cracknell smashed his maiden fifty for Middlesex in T20 cricket, off just 22 balls, whilst Luke Hollman’s brutal and explosive 46 off 26 balls was equally as crucial. The seasoned and reliable John Simpson’s 46, came at a slightly more sedate pace, although only just, off 34 balls, and was equally as important as Hollman and Cracknell’s knocks in helping Middlesex build a winning total of 184.
With the ball it came down to another critical over from Tom Helm, who again displayed all the characteristics of a season campaigner, to show maturity way beyond his years at the death, holding his nerve to deliver another killer final over, which saw the hosts fall two runs shorts of Middlesex’s total.
Sussex will head into tomorrow’s clash with Middlesex wounded, having been well beaten by Surrey yesterday to leave the South Group wide open. If Middlesex’s young side can hold their nerve down in Hove and perform to the levels that they’ve reached on numerous occasions this summer, then victory is well within their capabilities.
Despite the defeat, the evergreen Luke Wright once again shone yesterday for Sussex, with their leading batsman adding another 45 runs to his season’s tally to take him to 350 runs at an average of 43.75. He again got support from South African David Weise, who was the difference between the two sides at Lord’s when Sussex won by 3 wickets, who with another 33 runs yesterday, went to 264 runs in the format at an impressive average of 66.00.
With the ball, it’s the spin of Danny Briggs that has been the most effective this term for Sussex, although it was fellow spinner Will Beer, who picked up a three-fer, who shone for Sussex in their latest outing!
Middlesex’s young side will go into the must-win game tomorrow with the same never say die attitude that they took to Canterbury yesterday, and with both sides needing to win to keep their hopes alive, it again promises to be a belter of an encounter.
The game starts at 2pm, behind closed doors, although fans wishing to watch the game online can do so, by tuning in to the Middlesex website and watching the live stream, provided tomorrow by our hosts Sussex.
Stuart Law has named the following fifteen-man squad to take on the Sharks in Hove:
Steven Finn (c)
John Simpson (wk)