Middlesex head to the Essex County Ground in Chelmsford tomorrow evening for their third NatWest T20 Blast match of this year’s campaign, to take on an Essex side who have thus far failed to hit the consistent form that has seen them reach the knockout stages of the twenty over competition in five of the past six seasons.
Captain Dawid Malan leads his men into the game hoping to build on a hugely promising start a fortnight ago against Hampshire, when the skipper himself led his side to victory with a fine innings of 93 off just 48 balls, to set up a fantastic 69 run victory at Uxbridge. That opening day win was followed up by a disappointing, yet closely fought, five wicket defeat to Michael Klinger’s Gloucestershire side, a team who have become a real bogey side for Middlesex in this format, with the Seaxes failing to beat them now in nine T20 meetings since the competition launched in 2003.
Whilst never an easy place for visiting sides to go to, with its intimidating atmosphere and staunchly partisan Essex crowd, Middlesex have managed to secure victory on three of the ten times the two sides have come together at Chelmsford, although it has been the home side who have prospered in more recent meetings, winning in each of the last two seasons.
Last season it was a swashbuckling 59 off 27 balls from Jesse Ryder that took the game Essex’s way, however this season Middlesex will be hoping that it will be Ryder’s fellow countryman, Brendon McCullum, who can turn the tide in the visitors’ direction. McCullum comes into the fixture nicely rested, having sat out of Middlesex’s fifty over victory down at Bristol on Wednesday, and having hit 74 from 56 balls at Radlett on Tuesday of this week, he is showing plenty of signs that he’s got a big innings just around the corner.
The Middlesex squad for the trip to Chelmsford includes young leg spinner Nathan Sowter, who could be set for his first appearance of the season, whilst young seamer Tom Helm is also included, having impressed in both of Middlesex’s Royal London One-Day Cup outings this term. Malan also benefits from the inclusion of Mitchell McClenaghan, who brings plenty of pace, aggression and penetration to the Middlesex attack. With Paul Stirling, John Simpson and Dawid Malan all hitting hundreds in recent weeks, albeit across different formats, there’s also plenty of runs in the Middlesex batting line-up to give Seaxe fans plenty of optimism that another victory for Malan’s men could be on the cards – a victory that will take Middlesex up towards the top of the table with games in hand on all the sides around them.
Middlesex are pleased to announce the following 14-man squad for our NatWest T20 Blast match against Essex at Chelmsford tomorrow night, Friday 10 June:
Dawid Malan (captain), James Franklin, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Mitchell McClenaghan, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Harry Podmore, Ollie Rayner, John Simpson, Nathan Sowter, Paul Stirling.