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Middlesex entertain table topping Leicestershire this week in round five of the Vitality County Championship, and First Team Coach, Richard Johnson, has named a squad of thirteen for the encounter starting on Friday.

Tom Helm and Josh De Caires are the two to drop out this week from the squad that travelled to Bristol last week, with Sam Robson coming in, having made a full recovery from injury.

Helm is rotated out of the seam unit, whilst De Caires misses this one through injury, suffering from an infection in his right index finger, his spinning finger, after taking a knock in the match at Northampton. He will have treatment on the infection and is expected to make a full recovery in a matter of days.

Middlesex head into this week’s clash unbeaten in their opening four matches this season, following draws in the opening two rounds against Glamorgan and Northamptonshire, victory against Yorkshire at Lord’s a fortnight ago, and a draw down in Bristol against Gloucestershire earlier this week.

Whilst only four games into the season, it’s already looking like being a closely fought race in Division Two, with only five points separating the top four sides in the table. Leicestershire sit top of 56 points, Northamptonshire in second on 54, Middlesex in third on 53, with Sussex in fourth on 51.

To use the footballing cliché, Middlesex’s last match down in Bristol was a classic ‘game of two halves’, with Gloucestershire edge the opening two days of the game, and Middlesex the last two, although Johnson’s side definitely left the ground the happier, taking an enormous amount of encouragement for the way they battled in the game and finished by far the stronger of the two sides, pushing hard in vain for victory on the final day.

Without doubt, the most encouraging part of Middlesex’s unbeaten start to the campaign has been the form of the batting unit, with Ryan Higgins, Max Holden and Leus du Plooy leading the way in imperious form.

Higgins has continued to show how important he is to this Middlesex side, maintaining the solid consistency he showed last season, by already notching 448 runs this term at an average of exactly 112. Holden has been a revelation this season, already hitting two hundreds in the 412 runs he has amassed, averaging 84.60. Whilst du Plooy, has hit the ground running for Middlesex, showing the kind of class which led to the Club bringing him to Lord’s, with 376 runs at an average of 75.20, including an unbeaten 196 at Northamptonshire.

Sam Robson, who has missed out on the last three rounds after sustaining an injury to his thumb in the opening match against Glamorgan, returns to the squad, now fully fit, and showing that he’s ready for a return to the starting eleven by hitting a brilliant hundred against Kent earlier this week down in Canterbury, when playing his comeback match for the Second Eleven.

With the ball Middlesex’s attack looked back to its very best against Yorkshire at Lord’s a fortnight ago, and at times against Gloucestershire looked sharp, however they’ll need to find the levels they hit against Yorkshire more frequently if they are to take advantage of getting themselves into match winning positions.

Ryan Higgins and Ethan Bamber jointly lead the way on the wicket-taking front for Middlesex with 9 wickets apiece, with Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Helm close behind on 8.

Leicestershire come to Lord’s also unbeaten, securing four consecutive draws at the start of their campaign, and sit top by virtue of the 24 bonus points they’ve earned to date - more than any other side in either of the two divisions.

Fifteen of those are batting bonus points, and they’ve been heavily in the runs in their last two games, securing maximum batting points in both games against Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.

Despite securing ten more batting points than Middlesex, none of their batters can improve on the efforts of Higgins, Holden or du Plooy in runs scored to date, with Australia’s Marcus Harris leading the way, with 333 runs at an average of 66.60.

Also in the runs, and Leicestershire’s second highest run-scorer is Middlesex’s former Captain, Peter Handscomb, with 244 runs at 61.00, who returns to Lord’s with Leicestershire for the first time since leaving Middlesex in 2022.

The fact that nine Leicestershire players are averaging 50 or above this season tells you all you need to know about the depth in their batting ranks.

With the ball, right-arm quick Scott Currie leads the way for this week’s visitors, with ten wickets, with Ben Mike and Tom Scriven on his tail, with 9 and 8 wickets respectively.

The two sides didn’t meet last year, with Middlesex in the top-flight and Leicestershire in the second tier, however the previous meetings in 2022 saw Middlesex come out on top in both encounters.

At Lord’s, a century from Mark Stoneman in the first innings set Middlesex on their way to a ten-wicket victory over the Foxes, before the return fixture in Leicester saw a Toby Roland-Jones masterclass steal the show, as his match return of 8 for 120 saw Middlesex run out winners by 80 runs.

With both sides fighting to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season, the next four days of cricket promise to be gripping, and we hope you’re able to join us at Lord’s to watch the action.

Middlesex have named the following thirteen-man squad for the encounter with Leicestershire this week:

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Related fixture

Fri 03 May
Vitality County Championship - Division 2
Start Time: 11:00
Duration: 4 days

Middlesex Middlesex
Leicestershire Leicestershire

Match Drawn