Middlesex kick off their 2021 Blast campaign at Lord’s tomorrow night, with rivals Surrey’s in opposition, as the London derby hits the Home of Cricket, in a game starting at 7pm being shown live on Sky Sports.
A socially distanced crowd in excess of 6,000 are expected at Lord’s for the clash, with the ground operating to just 25% capacity, which whilst offering an atmosphere for the players to enjoy, will differ considerably to the normal 28,000 that would be cramming into Lord’s for this annual sell-out clash.
Middlesex are led by England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, who is available to represent the club for the opening five matches of the Blast campaign, before joining up with England for their forthcoming white-ball series against Sri Lanka.
Morgan’s wealth of experience at the helm will be a huge asset to Middlesex, as he’ll be marshalling a squad that features a number of youngsters who Law is backing to repeat their efforts from last season, when no less than four of the club’s young academy products made their debuts in Middlesex’s Blast campaign.
Head Coach Stuart Law names a squad which includes Sydney Thunder all-rounder Chris Green, who has trained and played with the squad this week, as well as big-hitting Irishman Paul Stirling, who returns to the club as a short-term overseas replacement for the absent Mitchell Marsh.
Law’s side packs plenty of power up top, with Eskinazi, the competitions second highest run-scorer last season included, with Max Holden and Nick Gubbins joining him, Stirling and Morgan at the top of the order.
There’s plenty of firepower in the middle ranks too, with Joe Cracknell, John Simpson and Luke Hollman all being terrific strikers of the ball.
The bowling ranks sees an emphasis on spin, with frontline options available from Green, Nathan Sowter and Luke Hollman, with plenty of extra spin overs available from Holden, Gubbins and Stirling, whilst youngsters Ethan Bamber and Blake Cullen are named alongside last year’s Blast skipper Steven Finn in carrying the pace attack.
Middlesex are without a plethora of seamers for the start of their Blast campaign, with Tom Helm missing out on tomorrow night’s encounter, as he has recently developed symptoms of Covid-19 and is currently self-isolating having tested positive. James Harris (side-strain), Toby Roland-Jones (knee), Tim Murtagh, (elbow), and Max Harris (ankle), are also currently unavailable to Law through injury.
Middlesex will be hoping to get their campaign off to a flying start against a strong Surrey side, to shake off the disappointment of their red-ball campaign, and a focus on white-ball cricket could be just what the squad needs to rebuild confidence and mount a challenge for honours in the shorter formats of the game.
Middlesex’s thirteen-man squad for tomorrow’s London derby is as follows:
Eoin Morgan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)