Middlesex head to New Road in Worcester this week, for the final clash of the 2022 season, with promotion into the top flight of the LV= Insurance County Championship sat in their own hands.
First Team Coach Richard Johnson has named an unchanged squad of fourteen for the crucial clash, with Middlesex knowing that a better result than Glamorgan in this week's final round will see the Seaxes return to Division One.
Last week's vital win over Leicestershire at the Uptonsteel County Ground saw Middlesex remain in second place in the table, 9 points clear of Glamorgan, who themselves also won against Derbyshire, and the 21 points Johnson's took from the trip to Leicestershire sees them now sitting just 9 points behind Nottinghamshire, after they suffered an innings defeat to Worcestershire!
Middlesex hit the final round in good form, having won their last two matches, against promotion rivals Glamorgan and bottom of the table Leicestershire, so confidence will be high going into this crucial clash, however Worcestershire, despite being out of the promotion race themselves, are in solid enough form too, unbeaten in three matches, having drawn with both Glamorgan and Sussex, before beating table topping Nottinghamshire last week.
Against Glamorgan a fortnight ago, Middlesex romped to victory, however weren't always at their best. Against Worcestershire this week however, despite being made to work hard for their win, they bowled with great discipline throughout the game, batted solidly in difficult conditions, and delivered a well-rounded performance that saw them run out deserving winners.
It all sets up a mouth watering final week of matches in the Second Division, with each of Nottinghamshire, Middlesex or Glamorgan, mathematically still in with a chance of lifting the title, and all in with a chance of winning promotion - Nottinghamshire host Durham, Glamorgan travel to Hove to face Sussex, and Middlesex are at New Road!
Worcestershire remain one of only two sides to beat Middlesex in the four-day format this season, along with Derbyshire, however Middlesex can take hope from the fact that despite the loss, they dominated for large parts of the game against this week's opponents at Merchant Taylors' School, before a freak innings from Worcestershire opener Ed Pollock took the game away from them in the fourth innings.
Middlesex will need to find all their resolve, be at their best, and be as disciplined in their attack as they were this week in Leicester to get the result they need, and a keen eye will be kept on proceedings at Trent Bridge and Hove. The message from Johnson will surely be simple enough - focus on our own game, it's in our hands. We do our job, results elsewhere then become irrelevant!
It's undoubtedly the biggest game for Middlesex since that incredible day at Lord's six years ago, when things went their way as they beat Yorkshire to lift the title, and with three sides gunning for promotion and the title, there's nothing to suggest that this coming week won't be equally as exciting! Of course, Middlesex fans will be hoping for a similar outcome at the end of the game, although only time will tell. One things is for sure, it will be a week when plenty of nails are chewed and plenty of fans will be clinging to the edge of their seats.
For this week's crucial clash in Worcester, Richard Johnson has named the following unchanged fourteen-man squad: