Middlesex First Team Coach Richard Johnson has named a squad of thirteen to take on Glamorgan in a crucial encounter at Lord's from Monday 12th September, as his side make a long awaited return to County Championship action.
When play gets underway on Monday it will be 45 days since Middlesex last took to the field in a red-ball encounter, with a break of over 6 weeks between their eleventh and twelfth County Championship matches, whilst the Royal London Cup played out alongside the Hundred in the height of the summer months.
Last time out, at the end of July, Middlesex and Durham shared the points in a rain affected drawn affair at Chester-le-Street, which saw Middlesex come out of the clash with 13 points and hold on to second spot in the Division Two table behind pace-setters Nottinghamshire. Glamorgan, with a game in hand, sat just 5 points behind.
Since then, in this week's round of Championship matches, which Middlesex sat out and could only watch on, Glamorgan came away from their game in Cardiff against Worcestershire with a draw, despite being outplayed and forced to follow on in the game, before heavy rain in the latter stages of the game got them off the hook. Their draw and the 12 points earned saw them move seven points clear of Middlesex in the table with just three games remaining.
This week's encounter really couldn't be any bigger, second versus third, in a match that would see the victors take a significant step towards securing promotion into the top flight of the Championship structure, and Middlesex would do anything for a repeat of the result in the reverse fixture earlier this summer. Johnson's side demolished Glamorgan in Cardiff, serving up an innings and 82 run defeat, when rolling their promotion rivals twice in the game, for just 122 in their first innings and 132 in their second. More of the same would be just what the doctor ordered at Lord's this week.
Middlesex head into the clash with the newly-returned Ryan Higgins named in the squad, after the all-rounder was announced as a loan signing for the remainder of this season ahead of a four-year move to Lord's. Higgins experience and quality will be a huge boost to Middlesex, who come into the game needing to take all the points they can muster.
Tim Murtagh returns to captain the side, and he'll lead a strong seam attack with plenty of variation on offer, containing Higgins, Toby Roland-Jones, Ethan Bamber, Pieter Malan and young left-arm quick Ishaan Kaushal. Middlesex will be without Umesh Yadav however, who was unable to complete the Royal London Cup campaign after picking up a thigh injury and has been in India since under the medical supervision of India's team doctors. All being well, if he has fully recovered from his injury and has completed his rehab, Yadav is scheduled to fly back to the UK later this week to be available for the Club's final two Championship matches away at Leicestershire and Worcestershire. Also missing is Tom Helm, who will be travelling with England, having earned a call-up into the T20 International squad for the seven match series against Pakistan.
Luke Hollman is named as the front-line spinner in the squad, with part-time support available from the likes of Sam Robson, Mark Stoneman and Max Holden if needed, whilst a strong and in-form batting line-up of Stoneman, Robson, newly crowned PCA Player of the Month Stephen Eskinazi, Malan, Holden, Higgins and wicket-keeper John Simpson looks to have plenty of runs within it.
It promises to be a huge game this week at Lord's, with an enormous amount on the line, and with two away games to come for Middlesex in the next fortnight, they'll be keen to head off on their travels with a win under their belt and having returned to the top two of the Division Two table with promotion in their own hands.
Middlesex have named the following thirteen-man squad for this week's encounter with Glamorgan...
A minutes silence will take place ahead of the start of the game, with all players wearing black armbands, and the flags at Lord's will fly at half mast, as a mark of respect for the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
If you're unable to watch the game live in person at Lord's, then you can tune in to Middlesex's enhanced live stream of the match, which will be available to watch from 10.25 on Monday morning, via the match centre on the Club's website, or on the Club's YouTube channel.