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Middlesex First team Coach, Richard Johnson, has named a squad of fourteen for our return to red-ball action, when we take on Northamptonshire in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship at Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood this week.

Both Middlesex and Northamptonshire are currently residing at the wrong end of the Division One table, with visitors Northants sat rock bottom on 39 points, and Middlesex one place above them on 51 points - both having played seven matches..

Kent's victory over Northants last week saw the Canterbury based side climb above Middlesex into eighth place, although both Middlesex and Northants do have a game in hand on the two sides above them - Kent and Nottinghamshire, which makes this week's encounter in Northwood all the more important.

With all ten sides in action this week, with Kent ( in 8th place on 72 points) hosting Warwickshire in Canterbury, and Nottinghamshire (in 7th place on 78 points) travelling to the Kia Oval to take on Surrey, a win for either Middlesex or Northants would put them in a much stronger position in the table, whilst still maintaining their game in hand on those counties currently above them.

Middlesex were on the wrong end of the flip of the coin in their last Championship encounter at the Ageas Bowl, as having lost the toss, they then had to watch hosts Hampshire make the most of the day one conditions, and were immediately on the back foot and chasing the game, on a bone dry wicket, prepared for the benefit of the home sides' spinners, that began turning sharply and bouncing erratically as early as the morning of day two!

Back on home soil, at Merchant Taylors' School this week, we'll be competing on a deck that certainly offers our attack something more favourable, and we'll need to rely on our bowling unit being right on their A-game to make the most of the familiar Northwood surroundings to ensure we maximise our home advantage.

It's a game that Middlesex really need to target for victory, as any slip-ups this week, would put enormous pressure on the side moving into the last third of the campaign, with four of our last five matches in the Championship being away from home, at Edgbaston against Warwickshire, at Chelmsford against Essex, at Old Trafford against Lancashire, and at Trent Bridge against Nottinghamshire - all where conditions will likely favour the home side.

Both Middlesex and Northamptonshire have been desperately short of first innings runs in their respective campaigns to date, with both sides and Northants earning just one point apiece going into this week's encounter.

Middlesex's Ryan Higgins tops the home sides' run-scoring charts, with 485 at an average of just over 40, with three others in the Seaxe's ranks having passed 300 runs this term - John Simpson (311), Sam Robson (305), and Mark Stoneman (301). For Northamptonshire, only Rob Keogh has passed 400 runs, with 431 at an average of 39, with Sam Whiteman the only batter to have passed 300 runs, with 392.

With the ball it's Ethan Bamber and Tim Murtagh who are leading the way for Middlesex, with 21 wickets apiece, with Ryan Higgins (19) and Toby Roland-Jones (18) just behind them. For Northants, Jack White leads the way, with 20, although only Chris Tremain (13) and Ben Sanderson (10) are into double figures.

Northamptonshire's victory over Middlesex at Wantage Road remains their only victory in the competition this term, and Middlesex will be keen to return the favour and reverse that result at Merchant Taylors' School over the next few days to secure the third win of their own campaign.

A win for Middlesex this week, dependant on the volume of points earned from this match, and dependent on Kent's result against fourth placed Warwickshire, could see Middlesex leapfrog Kent back into eighth place in the table, still with that all important game in hand!

It promises to be a thrilling encounter and one that isn't to be missed!

The fourteen-man squad named by Middlesex for this week's clash is as follows:

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Related fixture

Mon 10 July
LV= Insurance County Championship - Division 1
Merchant Taylors' School
Start Time: 11:00
Duration: 4 days

Middlesex Middlesex
Northamptonshire Northamptonshire

Match Drawn