Middlesex’s comprehensive victory at The KIA Oval earlier in the competition set down a major marker as to the balance of Vitality Blast power in London this season.
After years of languishing near the bottom of the group stages, Middlesex have undergone something of a resurgence this season. They sit third, with four wins from six, and look in good shape with a top order packed with big hitters and an impressive bowling attack.
Historically, the London derby has gone to Surrey more often than not, with Middlesex winning just 11 from 32 encounters. They have done the double over Surrey just once: in 2008. Few north of the river will need no reminding of the celebratory end, should they wish to draw any parallels.
Surrey, by contrast, finished last in the six-team south group that season. Those parallels look just as likely to be drawn. They have conceded over 200 three times so far — and one of those came in a 15-over thrash.
Eighth in the table, Surrey are nine points off the pace and already their remaining games look virtually must-win to retain any hopes of a knockout berth. That starts at Lord’s, but they haven’t won a T20 there for five years. Now would be quite the time to break that run.
Dawid Malan was magnificent in the return fixture last month, but how thrilling it is for Middlesex to have Eoin Morgan back in their ranks. Boasting the winning World Cup captain in the middle order is quite something. His two matches back in pink haven’t been particularly fruitful, with scores of 28 and 11. In fact, his Middlesex record of late has been moderate: just three half-centuries in his last 27 Blast appearances. But class tends to win out, especially on the big stages. This will be one of his biggest stages of the season — well, for just over three weeks, at least.
As England have found since last summer, fielding captains can always use a different angle of attack. Both Joe Root and Jade Dernbach would surely love to regularly utilise Sam Curran’s left-arm swing. What Curran lacks in express pace, he makes up for in control and sheer gumption. Against some world class Middlesex batsmen, he will offer something different to Surrey’s otherwise right-arm over seam attack. His batting is always handy, too: he made 53 batting at three against Somerset last week.
AB de Villiers will play his final game for Middlesex on Thursday night, although he is expected to return if the club reach the knockout stages. Tom Barber is included in the squad, replacing James Harris from the squad named against Somerset last weekend.
Middlesex squad: Dawid Malan (c), John Simpson (wk), Tom Barber, AB de Villiers, Stephen Eskinazi, Steven Finn, Tom Helm, Dan Lincoln, Eoin Morgan, Toby Roland-Jones, George Scott, Nathan Sowter, Paul Stirling, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Captain Jade Dernbach returns to the Surrey squad after recovering from a back injury. Sam Curran is also included after being made available by England in between Ashes Tests. Rory Burns and Jason Roy are not available. Jamie Smith drops out from the squad that travelled to Taunton last week having picked up a back injury of his own.
Surrey squad: Jade Dernbach (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Jordan Clark, Rikki Clarke, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Aaron Finch, Will Jacks, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Mark Stoneman, Imran Tahir
Form (most recent first)
Weather and conditions
A warm but overcast evening in north London, with temperatures in the low 20s. Expect a good, hard surface to benefit Middlesex’s powerful batsmen, Tom Helm’s pace and the two spinners.
Date: 8th August 2019
Odds (SkyBet): Middlesex 8/11, Surrey 11/10