After a period of white-ball cricket which saw Middlesex secure a quarter-final berth in the NatWest T20 Blast and narrowly miss out on qualification to the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup, the side return to red-ball action at Lord’s tomorrow when they take on London rivals Surrey in a Specsavers County Championship Division One clash.
James Franklin’s men return to four-day action to pick up their campaign on the back of two incredible victories in the competition, which cemented their position at the top of the table and took their unbeaten run in the Championship to ten matches. A quite magnificent last day performance against Yorkshire at Scarborough saw them secure an innings victory over the reigning champions, before they followed this up with another last day thriller in Taunton to see off the challenge of Somerset, with Middlesex chasing down an improbable target of 302, eight wickets down, which included them hitting a staggering 96 runs off the final eight overs of the match to secure a brilliant last over win.
That last victory sees them sitting thirteen points clear of Durham in second, who are the only other side in either division to maintain an unbeaten record to date.
Surrey come to Lord’s in seventh place, having eased their own relegation worries with an important victory in their last clash against Hampshire, to send their opponents to the bottom of the table. Whilst Surrey’s exile in the Second Division has meant that London’s cricket fans have been deprived of a London Championship derby in each of the last two seasons, there have been some outstanding clashes between these two great London rivals in recent years. Who can forget that brilliant fifteen wicket haul from Ollie Rayner at the Oval in 2013 to secure a magnificent 146 run victory, or that last Championship clash at Lord’s, when Jade Dernbach holed out to Sam Robson off Tim Murtagh, to see Middlesex bag an unlikely and nail-biting 3 run win.
All that will be forgotten however at Lord’s over the next four days, as both sides do battle again. Franklin will be hopeful that the white ball interlude won’t have any impact on the red-ball momentum that his side carry into this game, whilst Gareth Batty will lead Surrey into the clash, high from their victory at Lord’s in the Royal London One Day Cup this week and hoping to build on their crucial win over Hampshire in their last outing.
Middlesex name a fourteen-man squad for the London derby, with himself, Dawid Malan and Paul Stirling all now off the injured list. Sam Robson misses out on this one however, with a side injury, although he is replaced by Nick Compton, who makes a welcome return to the Middlesex’s Championship squad. James Fuller is still sidelined with a side strain, although Middlesex are able to name a strong bowling attack, including man of the moment Toby Roland-Jones and perennial thorn in Surrey’s side, Ollie Rayner.
James Franklin (capt)
John Simpson (wk)
Gates open each day at 10am, with play scheduled to begin at 11am. Tickets are available to purchase on the gate priced at £18 for adults, £9 for over 65's and £5 for under 16's.
Whilst your at the game why not visit the Lord's Beer Festival, taking place in the Harris Garden throughout the match! In association with Marston’s brewery, the Lord’s Beer Festival will take place throughout the Specsavers County Championship. Located in the Harris Garden, all ticket holders and Middlesex members will be granted free access to the festival.
With a fantastic range of beers and ciders, there will be plenty to relax even the stiffest upper lip!