As we move into the last week of the 2017 NatWest T20 Blast group stages, there's still everything to play for in the South Group, with all nine sides tightly bunched, and all sides, at this point, still in with a chance of qualifying for a quarter final position.
Middlesex's superb win against Sussex at Lord's last Thursday kept their hopes of qualification alive, although a disappointing defeat the following night against Essex took the gloss off the previous night's result and put their progress in the competition back in the balance.
With just two games remaining, against Gloucestershire tomorrow evening at Uxbridge and against Glamorgan this coming Friday, Middlesex must win both games to give themselves a chance. With the South Group so bunched up, all remaining matches will prove influential on how the table ultimately shapes up, and there's any number of permutations still possible. Predicting quite who will make the quarter finals is anyone's guess at this stage, with so much to play for and so many crunch games to come over the week ahead, so tomorrow's encounter at Uxbridge is all set to be an absolute thriller.
Whilst currently sat in ninth position, Middlesex only sit just two points off third spot in the table, and a win tomorrow at Uxbridge Sports Club would see them go into their final fixture of the South Group campaign needing to secure a back to back win for the first time in this year's campaign, and hopefully then a deserved place in the knockouts stages.
To keep this season's campaign going, Middlesex must successfully achieve something they've failed to do in eleven previous attempts â€“ and that is to defeat a Gloucestershire who have amazingly never been beaten by Middlesex in the twenty over format of the game. Daniel Vettori's men will be hell bent on changing that record tomorrow and getting that first crucial win under their belts.
A Middlesex win against Gloucestershire will see them step ahead of Kent in the table, on points, and pull level with each of Gloucestershire, Surrey, Somerset, Essex and Sussex, who all sit in joint third place on twelve points. Net run rate will ultimately play a major part in determining who reaches the latter stages, so Middlesex will have an eye on securing a convincing win tomorrow, before then trying to repeat the feat on Friday down in Cardiff to hopefully secure their passage into the quarter finals.
A real positive for Middlesex is that Gloucestershire won't be coming to Uxbridge in any kind of form, having been beaten in their last two T20 Blast encounters; losing heavily to Sussex down in Hove last Friday and then again down in Bristol yesterday to Essex, where the Eagles restricted them to just 121 in their twenty overs, before knocking them off with over three overs spare.
Middlesex name the following fifteen-man squad for tomorrow's clash with Gloucestershire at Uxbridge Sports Club, which is the same fourteen who went up against Essex last week, with Adam Voges also coming in, with him having now recovered from a minor calf injury picked up just the week before.
Eoin Morgan (captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)