With both Middlesex and Hampshire having made excellent starts to their Royal London One Day Cup campaigns, both sides head into this top-of-the-table clash at Merchant Taylors’ School on the outskirts of London knowing that a win will send a real statement of intent to the rest of the league.
Hampshire currently occupy first place in the South Group, with seven points from five games. Middlesex lie just below them in joint second on six points, the visitor’s extra point coming courtesy of an abandoned fixture against Glamorgan.
The away side know that winning this game against one of their closest challengers would surely see them nearly there in terms of qualifying for the knockout stages, while Middlesex will want to ensure they remain ahead of the chasing pack, which includes regular limited-overs heavyweights such as Surrey, Essex and Sussex.
With both sides coming into the match on the back of defeats in the last round of the RLODC (albeit in slightly differing circumstances – Middlesex lost by 53 runs and were bundled out for 230, while Hampshire somehow managed to lose by one run against Kent when chasing four off the last over), this game should not be taken lightly be either.
With the South Group in particular incredibly tight at the top of the league, this represents the perfect opportunity for both teams to leap ahead of their rivals and pull away from the chasing pack.
Nick Gubbins has been a rock at the top of the order for Middlesex in the Championship for a good three seasons now, but limited-overs success took him a little longer to come by. However, in this year’s tournament he has scored three half-centuries so far, with the latter two of these coming in wins against Sussex and Glamorgan. His solidity at the top of the order is integral to his side getting off to good starts, and with the current uncertainty around the opening berth next to Alastair Cook in England’s Test team, another score here would do his chances of international selection no harm at all.
Rilee Rossouw is proving a very good signing indeed for Hampshire, and having made 225 runs in his last three innings is now one of the mainstays of their limited-overs batting lineup. His powerful hitting has the ability to put the wind up opposition attacks and allows the rest of Hampshire’s batsmen to settle in around him. When he gets in, he tends to go big, so Middlesex will need to get him out early or face the inevitable consequences.
Middlesex will be without Eoin Morgan for this game, with the England limited overs skipper having chipped a bone in his finger during the match against Somerset. Max Holden could be in line to replace him, in what would be Holden’s first List A game of the season. Morgan is the only player from the last game against Somerset to not make the 13-man squad, which also includes James Harris and James Fuller. Harris or Fuller could come into contention should captain Steven Finn decide not to go with two spinners (Nathan Sowter and Ravi Patel), as he has liked to do so far. Alternatively, he could opt for experience over youth and perhaps go with Harris instead of young Tom Helm, the seamer.
Middlesex Squad: Steven Finn (c), Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, James Franklin, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Ravi Patel, John Simpson (wk), Nathan Sowter, Paul Stirling
Hampshire have named an unchanged 15-man squad for this game, with no fresh injury concerns or international call-ups to contend with. In addition to the XI that narrowly lost against Kent on Sunday, captain James Vince has Sean Irvine, Fidel Edwards, Brad Wheal and Chris Sole to select from should he so choose. Edwards could come in ahead of Reece Topley or Chris Wood should Vince feel the bowling requires a little more raw pace, while Ervine remains an option instead of any batsman seen as out of form.
Hampshire Squad: James Vince (c), Jimmy Adams, Tom Alsop, Gareth Berg, Mason Crane, Fidel Edwards, Sean Ervine, Lewis Mcmanus, Rilee Rossouw, Chris Sole, Reece Topley, Brad Taylor, Joe Weatherley, Brad Wheal, Chris Wood
Weather and Conditions
Weather forecasts do predict early-morning rain in the area, although this should clear as the day progresses. A sunny evening could suggest chasing a target instead of setting one could be the way to go at the toss. With this game the first Middlesex have played at Merchant Taylors’ in 2018, all eyes will be on the pitch to see how it plays. A normal outground rule is for short boundaries, so expect power-hitters on both sides to be licking their lips if this is the case here.
Date: 30th May 2018
Ground: Merchant Taylors’ School
Odds: Middlesex 1/1, Hampshire 4/5