This looks to be an enticing top of the table clash between two of the bigger clubs in Division Two. Middlesex have perhaps surprised some by being the early pace setters, thanks in large part to their bowlers who have lightened the load on their batters as pitches at Lord’s have not been as conducive for batting as in other parts of the country. This has made for some exciting games of Championship cricket this season, even if the batters’ averages have suffered slightly as a result.
The home team are unbeaten so far. Up until the match at Hove, their batters have struggled somewhat for consistency. But it is fair to say that the collective batting unit will be feeling much more confident after chasing down 370 on the last day at Hove to win by 7 wickets, with most of the top batters making good contributions and getting time in the middle. They certainly looked stronger for the return of Sam Robson who showed his class with 149 off 181 balls to do much of the heavy lifting in the successful chase. Peter Handscomb also got an important 79 to get his season off and running.
The bowling unit is as strong as most in Division Two, with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Toby Roland Jones, Ethan Bamber, and Tom Helm all looking dangerous at times. Roland Jones was rested for the Sussex game, so will be likely to come back in as the seam attack is rotated, with Blake Cullen being the most likely to make way after being somewhat expensive at Hove.
The visitors had a week off last time round but also come into this game feeling confident following their 5 wicket win against Worcestershire in round 4. On paper, they have one of the better squads in the division, but like Middlesex, the overall batting unit has yet to really fire, with only Ben Duckett with 430 runs at 71.66 suggesting any kind of consistency. Joey Evison and Lyndon James have shown some early promise as both have registered maiden first class 100’s this season in their limited opportunities.
The rest of the line-up has a feast or famine look to it when you examine the numbers. Opener Ben Slater has 271 runs at 54.20, but with 225 of those coming in one innings, same for skipper Steven Mullaney (266 at 44.33), who has not followed up his epic 192 against Sussex at the start of the season. Discarded England opener Haseeb Hameed has also had a poor start to the season, with only 161 runs at 26.83 so far. Additionally, Joe Clarke is yet to really show his best form. Whether he gets an England call up has undoubted moral issues, but he is not making his case for red-ball selection on the field so far.
Where the Notts side probably excel among their Division Two counterparts is in their bowling line up with the likes of Stuart Broad, James Pattinson, and Dane Paterson available to them, plus solid county performers like Brett Hutton, Luke Fletcher, and spinner Liam Patterson-White. Paterson (18 wickets at 16.22), and Patterson-White (18 at 18.50) lead the bowling averages, while Pattinson has been disappointing so far this season with only 6 wickets at 41.33.
For Middlesex, Toby Roland-Jones comes back into the squad. His experience and quality will be important within a quality Middlesex attack. Additionally, the return of Sam Robson made a big difference with his quality and experience at the top of the order, and his calming influence helped guide the chase at Hove.
Nottinghamshire are a side packed with quality individuals, but Ben Duckett has been the lynchpin of the batting so far with 5 50+ scores in his 6 innings so far, with only the rest of side managing a further 7 between them. With the ball, Dane Paterson has been deadly so far, but Stuart Broad will be a handful at Lords if he plays.
For Middlesex, Shaheen Shah Afridi is rested for this game. Robbie White is out injured, having dislocated his left shoulder against Sussex when fielding, so either Josh De Caires or Jack Davies could step into the side. Tom Helm misses out after sustaining an injury during the game against Leicestershire 2 weeks ago.
Middlesex squad: 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
For Notts, Stuart Broad is in the squad and will be keen to get on the field and show his fitness and quality with selection for the first Test of the summer not far away.
Nottinghamshire squad: Steven Mullaney (c), Sol Budinger, Stuart Broad, Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett, Luke Fletcher, Haseeb Hameed, Brett Hutton, Lyndon James, Tom Moores (wk), Liam Patterson-White, James Pattinson, Ben Slater
Weather and Conditions
It will not be particularly tropical in London over the four days, but the rain should stay away while remaining overcast. Temperatures should stay around the high teens for most of the game and occasionally sneak into the 20’s, so should be pleasant enough for spectators.
Pitches at Lords have tended to favour the bowlers in recent times with a little bit of grass left on, so batting may be difficult on day 1 and 2 in particular.
Date: 12th – 15th May 2022
Odds (Sky Bet): Middlesex 11/10; Nottinghamshire 4/6