Middlesex return to Lord’s tomorrow for their penultimate match of the 2021 County Championship season, where they’ll take on Worcestershire.
Middlesex head into the clash in superb form, under the leadership of Tim Murtagh, who has clearly taken to captaincy well, having marshalled his side to wins in their last three first-class matches, starting with the win against Leicestershire at Merchant Taylors’ School, before turning over Derbyshire at Lord’s a fortnight ago, and then beating Sussex last week by an innings down in Hove.
Whilst there is only pride and prize money to play for, Head Coach Stuart Law has stressed the need for his side to maintain their focus until the bitter end, to play with passion, and use these matches as an early springboard into the next season. In addition to the results, which have been outstanding, the quality of the performances that the young Middlesex side are putting in will be giving them a huge amount of confidence and belief, and a strong finish this term will set them up nicely for what lays ahead in 2022.
In a campaign where Middlesex have competed strongly in the vast majority of matches they’ve played in, dominating many of them for large parts, only for lapses in the odd session, or for the odd hour, to really hit them hard, the side have clearly learned from those experiences, and are now not only making themselves hard to beat, but are also now killing games off.
The win against Sussex was by far the most comprehensive of the recent winning spell, with numerous long-standing records being broken on the opening two days of the game, as Middlesex’s batsmen piled on a record total of 676 for 5 declared.
Runs for Sam Robson, who is fast closing in on 1,000 Championship runs for the season, Mark Stoneman, who shook off a disappointing debut at Lord’s to hit a magnificent 174, Robbie White, who backed up his maiden hundred at Lord’s last week with another down in Hove, and for Martin Andersson, who hit an impressive 88, put Middlesex in complete control of the match from the outset, and they’ll be looking to carry on this form when finishing their home campaign at Lord’s this week.
On a Hove pitch that was flat and offered little to the bowlers on the first two days, it began to deteriorate on day three, and more so on day four, and Luke Hollman grabbed his opportunity, picking up his maiden five wicket haul in the first innings, and then repeating the feat in the second, to finish with ten wickets in the game. Thilan Walallawita also bowled beautifully in the game, without anywhere near the reward his endeavours deserved. The fact that both young spinners bowled with such control and gave so little away is another huge positive to take.
With Ethan Bamber, Tom Helm and Toby Roland-Jones all rested for the Hove clash, they will be back in contention this week, and they’ll give stand-in skipper, Tim Murtagh, plenty of options with the pace attack, with a full complement of quicks available to pick from.
Coming into the Division stage of the competition in first place, Worcestershire backed up that position with a comprehensive opening victory against Sussex at New Road, although they came back down to earth with a bump last week, destroyed by Kent by an innings and 56 runs.
This was Kent’s second win on the bounce and saw them leapfrog Worcestershire to second in the table, with only Middlesex ahead of them, as Worcestershire dropped to third.
With Worcestershire this week and Kent in the final clash of the season next week, finishing the season as Division Three winners resides firmly in Middlesex’s own hands, and they’ll be looking to follow up their recent performances at Lord's and down in Hove with a similar showing at Lord’s this week, to really stamp their authority on the table.
Middlesex have named a fifteen-man squad for this week’s clash.
Tim Murtagh (captain)
John Simpson (wicket keeper)
Members attending Lord's this week should be aware of a relaxing of restriction within the Lord's Pavilion - please read HERE for further information.
We look forward to welcoming you all to Lord's.