England’s newest internationals are set to face-off with potential selection on their minds when Sussex make the trip to Middlesex for their Natwest T20 Blast clash.
Two 100s and 13 half-centuries may give the impression that Dawid Malan’s call-up is long overdue, but the 28-year-old heads to Lord’s with an impressive series against Pakistan A behind him.
He averaged more than 50 in that series in the UAE, and while the likes of Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan can be overshadowing in Middlesex’s side, Malan stole the show with 93 against Hampshire at Uxbridge.
It set Middlesex on their way to a productive start to the Blast campaign, winning two of their first three as they prepare to play fixture catch up with those around them.
It’s a position the Londoners have seldom been in after struggling in Blasts of the past, but tonight’s clash with Sussex followed by tomorrow’s London derby at Surrey present a chance of new ventures. Quarter-finals won’t quite be on the lips just yet, but a win tonight will certainly go a long way to talk of the last eight.
The same discussions will likely be present on the South coast as the Sharks travel to St John’s Wood with just one defeat of their own, their three wins slipping them into second place in the South Group.
The express pace of Tymal Mills, who bowled superbly against Somerset on TV a couple of weeks back, has been recognised with a call-up of his own for the one T20 against Sri Lanka.
But it’s been a mixed tournament for the Sussex fastman, now a T20 specialist at Hove. His 93mph display against Chris Gayle was backed up nine days later, with Kent on the end of his 3-15, but that was sandwiched by 1-55 against Surrey.
And with all three performances at Hove, it’s still to be seen whether Mills, whose best figures of 4-22 came against Middlesex, can replicate his performances away from home this year
And the Sharks have not lost in their last seven T20 trips to Middlesex, as well as winning seven of their last nine against the Londoners on all grounds.
It was Mills’ four-wicket haul that was instrumental in Sussex’s win at Lord’s last year, while Luke Wright’s 47 ensured a comfortable victory with almost five overs remaining.
Despite leading England to the World T20 final, Eoin Morgan had a personally disappointing tournament with the bat, which looked like it may continue when making just 12 in his first Blast appearance of the season.
But Morgan turned on the style against Essex, striking a 41-ball 59 at Chelmsford to help Middlesex to 173, a score they comfortably defended for a second victory of the campaign. Having said that, the Irishman doesn’t have the best record against Sussex, making 107 in eight innings against the Sharks with a top score of 30.
The shortest format may not be the one most associated with Ross Taylor, but the New Zealander has taken like a duck to T20 water this campaign, with 50s in three of his first four innings this season.
An unbeaten 93 against Gloucestershire at Bristol was followed by a rare failure against Somerset, but a 51 and 62 facing Surrey and Kent respectively for a man with 25 50+ scores in the format.
Dawid Malan will lead out a star-studded Middlesex line-up, with up to five internationals potentially taking to the field at Lord’s – and that’s before you include Malan himself.
Tom Helm has been ruled out for the season, while Toby Roland-Jones is in the squad after celebrating a contract extension at the home of cricket.
Middlesex squad: Dawid Malan (captain), Steven Finn, James Fuller, James Franklin, Nick Gubbins, Ryan Higgins, Mitchell McClenaghan, Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Ollie Rayner, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Nathan Sowter
Matt Machan and Ross Taylor are both included in the squad following injury lay-offs, but the latter will need his fitness assessing after damaging a hamstring in Sunday’s Royal London One-Day Cup win over against the same opposition.
Sussex squad: Luke Wright (captain), Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Ben Brown (wicket-keeper), Craig Cachopa, Harry Finch, George Garton, Chris Jordan, Matt Machan, Tymal Mills, Chris Nash, Phil Salt, Ajmal Shahzad, Ross Taylor, David Wiese
Weather and Conditions
Had you seen the forecast a couple of days ago, you’d have had all the reason to be pessimistic. But the forecast has brightened up for the first of four floodlit matches at HQ, and two batting powerhouses will look to cash in on a potentially-friendly batting track.
Date: 16th June 2016
Umpires: Steve Gale & David Millns
Odds (via SkyBet): Middlesex 10/11, Sussex 10/11