Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Middlesex v Yorkshire

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Middlesex v Yorkshire

The Middlesex bowlers will be having stern words with the Lord’s groundsman this week

The Middlesex bowlers have put down 307 overs so far this season and taken just 11 wickets while conceding 1,203 runs. They will be hoping for more reward this week, but face a Yorkshire batting line up packed with Test players. Joe Root and Harry Brook will be keen to get out on the Lord’s surface with the Tests against the West Indies coming up this summer and it could be another four days of toil for the home attack.

While Middlesex’s game against Northamptonshire soon reached stalemate, the game at Bristol between Gloucestershire and Yorkshire went into the last session, the Yorkshire bowlers just unable to take the final wickets. All the Yorkshire batters scored runs and Ben Coad took six wickets in the game, ably supported by Matt Fisher, Matt Milnes and George Hill. Dan Moriarty is the favoured spin option ahead of Dom Bess, who is playing in a second XI game this week.

While the Middlesex bowlers have had two weeks to forget, the batters have been racking up the runs, of particular note being a century from 19-year-old Nathan Fernandes. He came in to open in place of Sam Robson, who sustained a fracture at the tip of his thumb while fielding against Glamorgan. Fernandes has been batting up the order in preseason games having previously played T20s as a leg spinner. Max Holden will also be pleased to have made a big score, his unbeaten double century being the first time he has reached the 100 mark in the Championship since 2018. All the top order have made centuries in the two games played apart from Mark Stoneman, who fell three short in the Glamorgan fixture.

The overs bowled by Middlesex must be starting to tell and we would expect to see one or more of the the seamers rested this week. Henry Brookes, recruited from Warwickshire and Blake Cullen have been in the squad for the first two games and one or both are likely to start. They also have Martin Andersson who has taken 67 wickets from 32 first class starts.

Yorkshire could also rotate their seamers, Jordan Thompson having made way for Root against Gloucestershire. Matthew Revis has been in the squad for the first two matches and may well start, while Mickey Edwards is playing for the second XI this week.

While there have only been draws in Division Two so far, Yorkshire will be keen to get a win on the board, with promotion firmly in their sights. With Root and Brook currently available it would be good to start this week and they certainly line up as favourites, although the Middlesex batters will have other ideas.

Key players:

Ben Coad is Yorkshire’s leading wicket taker so far this season, with seven at 21.85 and, alongside Matt Fisher, forms a potent new ball attack. He will be looking to exploit any assistance the Lord’s pitch may offer, especially with the Dukes ball. A loyal Yorkshireman, the 30-year-old has now taken 253 first class wickets at 20.3 and his side will be looking to him to take some of the 20 wickets they will need for a win.

Leus du Plooy joined Derbyshire in 2019, initially as a Kolpak player, but more recently as a local player through a Hungarian passport. He has in fact turned out for the Hungarian national team. He was made captain of Derbyshire when Billy Godleman stood down at the end of the 2022 season, but has now made the move to Middlesex as they look to strengthen their batting following a dismal return from their batters last season. He had an excellent 2023, scoring 1236 runs in the Championship at an impressive 82.40, including four centuries. With the change to the Dukes ball he will be integral to Middlesex resisting the Yorkshire bowling attack.

Team News:

Middlesex will need to think about rotating their pace bowlers. It is assumed Robson remains unavailable.

Middlesex squad (from): Toby Roland-Jones (c), Ethan Bamber, Henry Brookes, Blake Cullen, Jack Davies (wk), Joshua de Caires, Leus du Plooy, Steve Eskinazi, Nathan Fernandes, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Max Holden, Luke Hollman, Mark Stoneman

Brook and Root are available for Yorkshire in this game. Thompson will likely come in to allow one of the other seamers to be rested, and Revis could also play.

Yorkshire squad (from): Shan Masood (c), Finlay Bean, Harry Brook, Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, George Hill, Adam Lyth, Matt Milnes, Dan Moriarty, Matthew Revis, Joe Root, Jonathan Tatersall (wk), Jordan Thompson, James Wharton

Weather and Conditions

The current forecast is for a dry first three days with sunny intervals and then showers coming in on Monday.

The game played at Lord’s in the first round was a runfest, but with the change to the Dukes ball it will be interesting to see if the captain winning the toss wants to bat first.

Date: 19-22April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: Lord’s

Odds (William Hill): Middlesex 7/4; Yorkshire 2/5


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