The start of the County Championship in 2023 is upon us and the Bazball era of English county cricket is about to be unleased in this absorbing London derby. Middlesex return to the topflight of English cricket after securing promotion last season, while Essex will be looking to start quickly to forget what an underwhelming 2022 season by their recent standards.
Middlesex come into the 2023 after a quiet off season in terms of recruitment, with the confirmation of the return of all-rounder Ryan Higgins from Gloucestershire, and South African test batter Pieter Malan secured as their main overseas player for the entirety of the 2023 season after losing the services of South African spinner Keshav Maharaj through injury. Veteran seamer Tim Murtagh has stepped back from the captaincy, with Toby Roland-Jones taking the reins in the red ball format. He will have a highly experienced side with considerable quality. They appear to have a relatively squad to choose from.
For Essex, they also have been quiet in the off season, with South African spinner and Essex legend Simon Harmer and New Zealand international Doug Bracewell confirmed as overseas signings for most of the 2023 season. The bustling Kiwi all rounder could prove to be astute signing in early conditions with his probing seam bowling and useful lower order runs. They are also a highly experienced unit, with high quality players like Dan Lawrence and Sam Cook looking to push their names in front of the England selectors with a busy international schedule ahead. The return of Jamie Porter from injury will further strengthen a potent Essex seam attack.
This looks like a tightly matched contest to start the season but expect the Essex attack to hold sway in early season conditions at Lords which can be spicy early on but potentially flatten out later.
For Middlesex, they possess an experienced batting line up and Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman are high quality players at the top of the order. In early season conditions how, they handle the new ball against a high quality Essex bowling attack will be key to their chances in this game. Should they provide a platform for the likes of Pieter Malan, Stevie Eskinazi, and John Simpson they could put Essex under serious pressure.
Dan Lawrence will be looking for a strong start to push his case for England test honours after an unfortunately timed injury caused him to miss out on a magical summer of test cricket in 2022 which would suit his swashbuckling style down to the ground. Alongside him, the likes of Sam Cook and Jamie Porter are excellent county performers and also form a crucial part of the Essex attack.
Middlesex squad: tbc
Essex squad: tbc
Weather and conditions:
The forecast for day one looks somewhat drizzly and may cause a delayed start, but the other three days look like typical April weather looking dry, sunny, but cool with highs of 15c, so the players will need their thermals.
Date: 6th – 9th April 2023
Odds (Sky Bet): Middlesex TBC/TBC; Essex TBC/TBC