Having completed eight back to back Vitality Blast clashes over the last fortnight, Middlesex switch formats tomorrow and make a welcome return to four-day cricket, as the LV= Insurance County Championship returns, with Richard Johnson's side heading to Chesterfield to take on Derbyshire.
The start of the season was red-ball focussed for the first seven weeks, and Middlesex flourished, winning four and drawing two of our six opening encounters, and we head into Sunday's game sat on top of the Division Two table - as the only unbeaten side in the Division.
As we look to pick up where we left off in mid-May, and build on that unbeaten four-day start, a concern has to be that we travel to Chesterfield off the back of a five game losing streak in the Vitality Blast, and Johnson will be hoping that there is no hangover from the short format as we look to further cement our challenge for promotion to the top tier of the Championship.
There is some comfort in the fact that the make up of Middlesex's red-ball side means that we are freshened up by the return of a number of players who haven't featured in our Blast campaign, with Ethan Bamber, Tim Murtagh, Sam Robson, Mark Stoneman and Robbie White all making a welcome return to the squad.
Our hosts this week have only lost one match themselves in the Championship, and had they been able to turn any of the four draws they've secured into wins, they'd find themselves right up alongside Middlesex at the top of the table - so this week's encounter will be another stiff test for Johnson's side, who'll need to continue the form they showed early in the season to build on that start.
The return fixture, played as Middlesex's opener this season at Lord's, saw both sides battle for a hard fought draw, and there's little to suggest it will be any different in Chesterfield this week.
The principal threat from Derbyshire comes from Pakistan international batsman, Shan Masood, who has been in superfluous form with the bat - hitting an incredible 844 runs in 9 innings, at an average of 93.77. Masood hit knocks of 91 and 62 at Lord's earlier this season, so he will be the prize wicket the Middlesex attack will be looking to snare early.
It's not only Masood who has been hitting the heights for Derbyshire this season, with Anuj Dal averaging 84.33, the evergreen Wayne Madsen averaging 71.12, Brooke Guest averaging 53.11 and Leus Du Play averaging 48.50 - so whilst the wicket of Masood is vital, there's plenty of runs throughout the Derbyshire order to back him up.
There's been little preparation for a return to red-ball cricket, with the schedule packed full of T20 cricket in recent weeks, however Johnson has had his side hitting red balls in training sessions this week in preparation for this return.
Middlesex have named the following thirteen-man squad for the trip to Chesterfield:
Our hots Derbyshire will be producing a live stream of the match, which can be viewed on YouTube or via the Middlesex website in the match centre.