The start of the season is upon us. The players will be getting the same feeling as a kid before Christmas, that tingle of excitement, the anticipation and for the players of Middlesex and Derbyshire it will be enhanced even more by that first game being at Lord’s the home of cricket.
Although rather than feeling like Christmas for these clubs the upcoming season of Easter and new beginnings may be a more appropriate analogy. Both have new coaches in place Middlesex spent the off season appointing Richard Johnson as new head coach and Mark Ramprakash as batting coach, Derbyshire likewise have a new head coach in Mickey Arthur and batting consultant in England legend Ian Bell. Both counties will be hoping these new appointments can help turn around disappointing seasons in 2021 and who’s to say they wont? They both have talented squads, a mixture of youth and experience, good overseas signings and most importantly a desire to get better. They will both also be looking to start the season well and gain impetus as they push for promotion back to division one.
Middlesex It’s early season, the ball will be nipping about so you need to trust your wicketkeeper and in John Simpson Middlesex have one they can trust implicitly. He is one of the best ‘keepers in the county game, and his skills behind the stumps will help to save the county many runs, but probably not as many as he will score. He is a more then proficient batter lower down the order and if he succeeds in this match then there is a good chance so will Middlesex.
Derbyshire Ever since Tony Palladino left the club Derbyshire have been lacking an experienced hand in their bowling attack, however that has changed for this year with the overseas signing of Suranga Lakmal. The experienced Sri Lankan should offer potency with the new ball. His record at Lord’s is not the best though’ having taken 6 wickets at 55.16 in this Test career for Sri Lanka. That is something that he will want to put right and if he does then Derbyshire’s chances will be greatly enhanced.
There should be a debut for Mark Stoneman who has made the short trip across London to sign from Surrey in the off season. Middlesex will be hoping he can forge a potent opening partnership with Sam Robson who has recently signed a new contract.
The bowling attack will be different his season with no Steven Finn or James Harris, although Toby Roland-Jones who has been appointed club captain will be there. He will deputise on the field in the absence of Peter Handscomb who will still be in Australia. He will lead an attack of youth in Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber and Tom Helm who will be mentored again by the ever green Tim Murtagh. Sadly Shaheen Shah Afridi has not arrived to take up his role of overseas bowler just yet.
Tim Murtagh (Captain), Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber, Blake Cullen, Jack Davies, Josh De Caires, Stephen Eskinazi, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Sam Robson , Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson (Wicket-keeper), Mark Stoneman, Robbie White
Derbyshire will have a full strength squad going into this match, bolstered by the arrivals of Suranga Lakmal and Shan Masood ready to take up their overseas roles. Both are expected to make their debuts. Brooke Guest will start with the wicketkeeping gauntlets after the retirement of Harvey Hosein in the Winter and in all probability bat at three behind the aforementioned Masood and skipper Billy Godleman.
A late addition to the squad is seamer Ryan Sidebottom, signed on a month’s loan from Warwickshire.
Within the bowling unit expect to see Alex Thompson play as the spinner for the Falcons along with a selection of quick bowlers. Despite bowling in friendlies prior to the start of the season, the game probably comes a little early for Mikey Cohen who is still recovering from his back injury which ruled him out of the end of last season,.
Billy Godleman (captain), Harry Came, Sam Conners, Anuj Dal, Leus du Plooy, Brooke Guest (wicket-keeper), Suranga Lakmal, Wayne Madsen, Shan Masood, Nick Potts, Luis Reece, Ryan Sidebottom, Alex Thomson
Weather and Conditions
The weather for the four days of the game looks set fair after a potential damp start on Thursday morning, although you will need to wrap up warm if you attend in person with temperatures as low as six degrees forecast. Lord’s is a notoriously difficult place to bat in the early season, so do not be expecting a high scoring draw here, expect a result. As for who which team, who knows?
Date: 7th – 10th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Lord’s Cricket Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Middlesex 8/15 Derbyshire 11/8