Middlesex kept their hopes of qualification for the quarter finals alive in the Royal London One-Day Cup yesterday with a thrilling four run victory against Essex in what was a crucial South Group fixture. In an absolutely enthralling low-scoring affair at the Home of Cricket, what the 6,500 crowd missed out on in well-timed boundaries and bludgeoned sixes, they more than made up for with the tense atmosphere and incredible finish that both sides served up.
The Seaxes return to the Home of Cricket again tomorrow, for another clash of equal if not greater importance in the fifty over competition, when London rivals Surrey head across the Thames and come to Lord’s for a day/night clash. With both sides still needing to win, to give themselves hope of securing one of the four quarter final places available in the South Group, tomorrow promises to be an absolute belter in front of the live Sky cameras.
Middlesex’s win against Essex said a lot about the character of this current side, who, led from the front by James Franklin, not only picked themselves up and bounced back from a painful last over defeat to Essex inflicted just a couple of days earlier in the T20 Blast, but also managed to hold their nerve and successfully defend a low total of 219 on Sunday under intense pressure in what was a must win encounter.
Middlesex will head into their final Royal London One-Day Cup clash with Surrey tomorrow full of confidence, knowing that another win against their local rivals will give them a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. That said, in what is an extremely tight South Group, a win for Middlesex wouldn’t guarantee matters, as they could still face the agony of an exit from the competition if other results don’t go their way. Two points against Surrey would take Middlesex to ten points, with five wins from their eight group matches played, and they could rightly consider themselves extremely unlucky should they face an exit from the competition with that points tally.
Surrey will be hoping that they can reverse the result from their last outing at Lord’s, when Middlesex successfully chased down their highest ever Twenty20 total, in an incredible run chase that saw the hosts surpass Surrey’s total of 196 with five balls to spare to secure a five wicket win. On that night, Surrey’s openers Jason Roy and Arron Finch got the visitors off to a flying start, and picking up their wickets early tomorrow will be key to Middlesex’s success.
The last time these two sides met at Lord’s in the fifty over competition the home side prevailed, with Middlesex securing a five wicket win over Surrey almost two years ago to the day, when an unbeaten hundred from Eoin Morgan took the Seaxes to a comfortable victory. Sadly, Middlesex will be without the services of Morgan tomorrow, who still remains on the injury list with a chipped bone in his finger, however they are boosted by the return of Nick Compton who makes a welcome return to the squad for this crucial encounter.
Injury concerns elsewhere for Middlesex see them naming a sixteen-man squad for this clash, with both Dawid Malan and James Franklin facing a late fitness test ahead of tomorrow’s game - Malan for continued groin pain, and Franklin, still suffering the effects of a ball on the end of the finger against Essex yesterday.
James Franklin (c)
John Simpson (wk)
Gates open at 12.30pm and the match is scheduled to start at 13.30. Tickets are available to purchase on the gate (Adults £20, Over 65's £10 and under 16's £5). Middlesex members can gain free entry on production of their Membership card.