Middlesex have named a squad of fourteen to take on Lancashire and Yorkshire in the opening fixtures of the County Championship. With a number of players unavailable due to injury, study or international commitments, three Second XI cricketers are named; Kathy Morley, Iqraa Hussain and Emily Thorpe and have the opportunity to make their Championship debut.
Middlesex begin their County Championship Division One campaign with away matches against Lancashire and Yorkshire this weekend. On Sunday they face Lancashire at St Annes, and on Monday play Yorkshire in Harrogate. Middlesex will hope they can find their rhythm after a disappointing defeat in a friendly to Hampshire.
A strong seam attack will be led by opening White Ferns’ fast bowler Holly Huddleston, who delivered an economical first spell against Hampshire and finished with 2-39 from her nine overs. Other seamers likely to feature are left-armer Naomi Dattani, Catherine Dalton, Milly Pope, Ria Raval and Gayatri Gole.
In the spin department Middlesex will rely on in-form leggie Sophia Dunkley, perhaps with support from fellow leg-spinner Thorpe, and the occasional over of off-spin from Beth Morgan. Dunkley had success against Hampshire, tying the batsmen down to take the first wicket, and finishing with 2-35 from her ten overs.
With bat in hand Middlesex will seek to show their class following a collapse against Hampshire. Vice-captain Natasha Miles played well in a losing cause, anchoring the innings and scoring 20 in a total of 83 all out. Though experienced Morgan was at the crease only briefly, before a misjudged third was attempted, she was hitting the ball cleanly and could be crucial to stability in the middle-order. Skipper Dattani will be keen to lead from the front by building a good platform with fellow opener Miles.
All counties will be without contracted England players and some senior Academy players for the opening fixtures after a training camp in the UAE. This means both Lancashire and Yorkshire will be looking to a combination of experienced county players and young guns to fire in the opening games. The Roses’ squads are likely to feature a number of players who represented Lancashire Thunder and Yorkshire Diamonds in the inaugural Kia Super League last year.
A key recruit for Lancashire is New Zealand all-rounder Amy Satterthwaite, who has been in fine form, recently scoring four consecutive centuries against Pakistan and Australia in One Day Internationals. Middlesex will be looking to bowl tightly to Satterthwaite and not get tied down when she is brought into the attack to deliver some off-spin.
Left-arm spinner Sophie Eccelstone and strong batsman/wicketkeeper Ellie Threlkeld, are also likely to play important roles for Lancashire.
Middlesex Women's Squad:
Naomi Dattani (c)
Gayatri Gole (Lancashire only)
Iqraa Hussain (Yorkshire only)
Milly Pope (Lancashire only)
Emily Thorpe (Yorkshire only)
Preview written by Middlesex Women's content co-ordinator, Georgia Isaac