Middlesex return to Vitality Blast action tomorrow night against Essex at Lord’s, where they’ll need to bounce back from the disappointment of back-to-back defeats to Gloucestershire and Glamorgan in their latest two Blast encounters last week.
With just one win coming from their opening five Blast clashes this team, Middlesex will have to hit their straps soon and get back to winning ways, or they could be facing a long tough campaign ahead in the short format of the game.
In four of the last five full Blast seasons, the points tally to secure knockout stage qualification has been 15 points, whilst in 2017 it was 14, so Middlesex will need, based on historical statistics anyway, a minimum of six wins, and possibly seven from their remaining nine games to put themselves in the frame, so whilst we’re not at the ‘must win’ stage yet, anything but victory against Essex tomorrow would see us nearing that point.
Essex’s form this term has been patchy at best, with the Eagles winning only two of their seven matches played, so Stuart Law’s side will have a great chance to get things back on track on tomorrow, although in their last outing at the Oval, Essex bounced back to winning ways and looked dangerous, beating their hosts by eight wickets with four and half overs to spare having bowled Surrey out for just 118.
Middlesex’s squad is boosted by the return of paceman Tom Helm, who has recovered from Covid, and Nathan Sowter also returns having recovered from an ankle injury, after both featured in Middlesex Second Eleven’s victory against Hampshire yesterday in a game that secured Middlesex’s place at the Second Eleven T20 Finals Day being played at Arundel tomorrow.
Both Paul Stirling and Eoin Morgan have played their last T20 fixtures this campaign and drop out, although the squad will benefit from the arrival of experienced New Zealand international all-rounder Daryl Mitchell, who is named in the squad and available for the remainder of the campaign.
Steven Finn picks up the Captaincy reigns from Morgan for the rest of the summer, and he’ll be looking to get the best out of his young side, much like he did when leading them last year.
With three Blast clashes coming in four days this week, a win for Middlesex tomorrow would be just the confidence boost they need ahead of a trip to the Oval on Friday night to face Surrey and a home encounter at Radlett against Glamorgan on Sunday afternoon.
Stuart Law names the following twelve-man squad for the Essex Eagles clash:
Steven Finn (c)
John Simpson (wk)