Just five days after beating Middlesex in the T20 match at Northwood, Gloucestershire entertain the London side in the Royal London One Day Cup at the Brightside Ground, Bristol in the first 50 over match under the newly installed floodlights at Nevil Road.
Gloucestershire, the current 50 over competition trophy holders have made an undistinguished start to the defence of their title. They lost their opening match at Taunton, an exciting affair in which Somerset triumphed by one wicket with three balls to spare, mainly thanks to a thrilling last wicket stand of 65.
It was a game that the visitors had all but won, and should have won, but the next day (Monday) at Cardiff they were well defeated by Glamorgan by 52 runs.
Middlesex did not start their 50 over campaign until Tuesday taking on Hampshire at Radlett Cricket Club’s Brunton Memorial Ground. The London based county have already convincingly beaten their visitors from the south coast in both the NatWest T20 Blast and Specsavers County Championship in the last ten days.
In contrast to their hosts, Middlesex’s white-ball cricket has been a disappointment in recent years. They have not qualified for the T20 knockouts since 2008 and last year finished seventh out of nine in their group for the 50 over format. But this summer Middlesex have high hopes of impressing in both white ball formats.
Much of this optimism is due to the overseas forces which they can call upon. Players of the class of Kiwi Brendon McCullum, Australians Adam Voges and George Bailey are all available at various times this season. In addition, Middlesex can call upon another brace of Kiwis: pace bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan and James Fuller, the latter signed from Gloucestershire in the winter.
The outstanding player in Gloucestershire’s two matches so far has been Benny Howell. His 2/37 with his medium-pace against Somerset was a master-class in how to ‘squeeze’ the batters in mid-innings. He followed this up with 2/32 at Cardiff, in both matches bowling his full allocation of ten overs. Added to this he top-scored at Cardiff with 77 following the 35 he hit at Taunton.
Howell’s strength with the ball is undoubtedly the variety of deliveries he has mastered, allied to admirable accuracy. But there will be have to be more telling contributions from other members of the Gloucestershire bowling unit if the success of last season is to be repeated.
Spectators at the Brightside Ground will be keen to see the recently retired New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. His record is truly impressive scoring over 7000 List A runs in 305 appearances; all this in addition to his 101 Tests and 71 T20s. But it is the manner in which McCullum played his cricket which endeared him to crowds all over the world. His enthusiasm, enterprise and sportsmanship are models for those who will follow him.
Gloucestershire have used 12 players in their two games so far and it is unlikely that their side will alter much for the Middlesex visit. They are likely to choose from:
Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (captain), Chris Dent, Gareth Roderick (wicket-keeper), Hamish Marshall, Ian Cockbain, Benny Howell, Jack Taylor, Tom Smith, Craig Miles, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Matt Taylor.
Middlesex named a squad of 14 for the game at Radlett. This is likely to be the same squad that travel to Bristol. It is:
Middlesex squad: James Franklin (c), James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Dawid Malan, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Tim Murtagh, Ravi Patel, Ollie Rayner, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson (wk), Paul Stirling.
Weather and conditions
The weather for the early part of the match could be showery. However, the forecast for most of the match warm and sunny; Bristol pitches this season have favoured batting so plenty of runs are likely.
Date: 8th June 2016
Ground: The Brightside Ground, Bristol
Umpires: Paul Baldwin, Nick Cook
Odds: Gloucestershire 11/10, Middlesex 8/11