After the disappointment of the cancellation of Sunday's penultimate clash of the Royal London Cup campaign, when Gloucestershire were unable to field a side due to Covid isolation of all but one of their entire squad, Middlesex head into the final group clash of 2021 against Sussex Sharks with qualification for the knockout stages looking an outside bet at best.
Middlesex name an unchanged squad of thirteen for the trip to Hove tomorrow.
With the ECB stating that qualification from the group stages will now being determined on the average points achieved per game completed, Middlesex will, first and foremost, need to beat Sussex tomorrow, and beat them well, to give themselves any chance of qualifying and give their net run rate a sizeable boost in the process.
Elsewhere, should Middlesex secure the victory they need, Essex will need to beat Lancashire, Durham will need to beat Hampshire, and Gloucestershire's clash against Kent must either not go ahead, which seems the most probable outcome given ongoing Covid isolations, or if Gloucestershire are able to field a side, then a Kent victory will be required.
This would see both Durham and Essex qualify in first and second places, and leave two sides, or potentially three, Middlesex included, to sweat over who has the best net run rate to grab the third knockout place.
The above set of results would see Middlesex finish on seven points from seven games played, with an average of 1.0 points per games, Lancashire on 8 points from 8 games played (1.0 average) and Gloucestershire on either 6 points from six games played (average 1.0) if the fixture is cancelled, or should they play and lose, 6 points from 7 games and out of the running.
Middlesex can only focus however on what's in front of them and what's within their control, and that is to win and win well. All they can then do is keep their fingers crossed and just hope that the cricketing gods choose to look favourably upon them, where all results will need to go their way.
It is of course an outside chance, but with Durham and Essex in the top two places, them winning is not unlikely, and neither is Gloucestershire's game being cancelled, so never say never, however all this becomes somewhat irrelevant unless the Seaxes secure victory themselves.
They'll be confident in doing so, against a Sussex Sharks side who have won just once in the competition to date and sit second bottom of the group, so it's all to play for in Hove tomorrow.
Middlesex's squad of thirteen for tomorrow's clash in Hove is as follows:
Peter Handscomb (captain)
Josh De Caires
Robbie White (wicket-keeper)