On Sunday of round six of the County Championship these two sides experienced differing emotions. For Middlesex it was relief. On the rack against Nottinghamshire, after an awful first innings performance, a century from Sam Robson and then an afternoon of rain meant they got away with a draw and 11 points. For Durham it was elation as Matty Potts bowled them to victory with a career best 7-40 in the second innings to scrape past Glamorgan.
Potts’ form so far this season has been scintillating, 35 wickets at 18s tells its own story and Deep Extra Cover’s ‘Player to Watch’ at the start of the season has now been called up by England and looks set to make his debut against New Zealand.
Durham lie 4th in the Division Two table at present, and this position is mainly down to their inability to turn draws into wins. In fact, the win over Glamorgan was their first of the season, whereas their opponents this week have three wins including a thrilling chase against Sussex in round four.
Middlesex sit top of Division Two and despite surviving last week they are undefeated this season and will bring a lot of confidence
For Middlesex, Sam Robson is the talk of the town after his second century in consecutive fixtures, with a number of calls for a return to the England side. Of course, he’s English and he’s made a few runs! In all seriousness, Robson’s runs will be key in this game. Durham have batsmen who can big (four in the top 25 run getters in Division Two), and Middlesex will need to match them.
Despite missing Dickson, Durham fans will be excited to see their big names play this week and in Stokes, Carse, Potts and Raine, they have difference makers throughout.
Tim Murtagh came back from injury and stepped in for Shaheen Shah Afridi (big shoes), and should be better for last week’s run out, and Toby- Roland Jones turned in another string performance. Richard Johnson was disappointed with the initial bowling effort last week which let Nottinghamshire off to a flyer, and he’ll be keen to see improvement in that area.
Toby Roland-Jones has 20 wicketsat 20s so far this season and with Durham’s batting line up, if Roland-Jones can get Middlesex’s bowling off to a good start and build pressure, there’s a chance for Middlesex to get on top in this game. If they let Durham get off to an untroubled start the likes of Stokes, Borthwick and Raine could make life very difficult for them.
Matthew Potts has been terrorising batsmen all season and he’s up against some serious quality in the top order with Robson, Stoneman, Handscomb and the youthful De Caires. If Potts makes Rob Key et al. look good this week, then Durham can take control of this match up.
The big news for Durham is the loss of Sean Dickson. The South African is second only to the rampant Shan Masood with runs scored and will be a big miss at the top of the order. The England trio of Stokes, Lees and Potts are all included. Brydon Carse remains in the squad and continues his return to full fitness.
For Middlesex Steve Eskinazi remains out with his broken thumb, meaning Josh De Caires will continue at the top of the order. Tom Helm is targeting a return for the T20 Blast which means Richard Johnson names an unchanged squad.
Scott Borthwick (c), David Bedingham, Brydon Carse, Ned Eckersley (wk), Michael Jones, Alex Lees, Keegan Petersen, Matthew Potts, Ben Raine, Chris Rushworth, Matt Salisbury, Ben Stokes, Liam Trevaskis
Peter Handscomb (c), Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber, Blake Cullen, Jack Davies, Josh De Caires, Max Holden, Luke Hollman, Tim Murtagh, Sam Robson, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson (wk), Mark Stoneman
The forecast is good for Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, but much less promising on Friday. Wetter weather over the last week might have livened up the Lords pitch a little. Allied with a new batch of Duke’s balls and perhaps the bowlers might have more joy this week.
Date: 19th-22nd May 2022
Odds (SkyBet): Middlesex 10/11 Durham 4/5