MATCH PREVIEW: Middlesex vs Lancashire
Lancashire head to the Home of Cricket with destiny in their own hands again with regards to qualification for the knockout stages of the Metro Bank One Day Cup.
Middlesex vs Lancashire
Metro Bank One Day Cup, Group One
Sunday August 20, 2023, 11am
Lord’s Cricket Ground
It’s highly likely that the Red Rose will have to win their remaining two games to qualify. But if they do, they will advance to the knockouts for the second year running.
It has been a mixed campaign for Keaton Jennings and his side, with six games so far split between two wins, two defeats and two No Results.
Lancashire are fourth in the table on six points, one behind Nottinghamshire, who hold the third qualifying position. But they only have one game left – against Jennings and company at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.
The Red Rose are one of three teams locked on six points, Kent and Yorkshire the others. But our net run-rate is significantly superior to both counties, meaning two wins will almost certainly be enough for progression.
The position was significantly strengthened by the landslide nature of victory against Surrey at Guildford on Thursday – by 10 wickets inside 23 overs chasing 154.
Middlesex are out of the running having lost four of six matches, winning only one. Their latest defeat came against group leaders Leicestershire at Grace Road last night when they were bowled out for 191 and failed to defend it. The Foxes were 173-5 when the rain arrived and won by 23 runs on DLS.
Since winning the County Championship title in 2016, Middlesex haven’t had the best of times.
They were relegated the following season and, despite promotion back to the top flight last season, they haven’t really challenged for major silverware across any format since.
Captain Stevie Eskinazi is one of their players involved in the Hundred, so former England opener Mark Stoneman has been deputising in this competition.
They are coached by ex-seamer Richard Johnson, who played three Test Matches and 10 One-Day Internationals for England in the early 2000s.
Middlesex may be out of the running in this competition – they also missed out on the quarter-finals of this season’s Vitality Blast – but they face a hugely important month of Championship action in September.
All-rounder Ryan Higgins is their leading run-scorer with 217 and leg-spinner Luke Hollman their leading wicket-taker with nine.
Opposing player to watch:
Batter Josh de Caires is the son of Lancashire legend Michael Atherton and has intermittently made first-team appearances across all formats for Middlesex since debuting in July 2021.
De Caires, 21, was born in Middlesex and has taken his mother’s birth surname. His great grandfather, Frank de Caires, also played three Test Matches for the West Indies in 1930.
Classy Josh is determined to make a name for himself. He has a top-score of 80 in nine first-class appearances and a best of 43 in 19 limited overs appearances combined across 50-over and T20 cricket.
He has played University cricket for Leeds/Bradford and has, in the last few years, scored a friendly century against Yorkshire at Headingley.
He made his Championship debut as an opener and has been batting in the lower middle order in the ongoing MB50 without a score of note to date.
He also bowls part-time off-spinners and claimed 7-144 from 47.3 overs in the first innings of an early season Championship defeat against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Middlesex beat Lancashire by six runs in a One-Day Cup thriller at Emirates Old Trafford in August 2021, only just defending a target of 258.
Josh de Caires opened the batting and former England opener Sam Robson top-scored with a well paced 76 off 81 balls in 257 all out. Tom Bailey led the way for the Red Rose with an excellent 3-33 from nine overs.
Liam Hurt and Jack Morley also struck twice apiece.
In reply, Lancashire were hurt – literally – by Keaton Jennings retiring hurt on 42.
But the hosts will have been mightily frustrated at not getting over the line given they were 160-2 in the 38th over.
Unfortunately, however, they slipped to 251 all out in the final over, with leg-spinner Luke Hollman claiming 4-56 from 10 overs. Rob Jones top-scored with 72.
Neither side were able to make it to the knockout stages that season.
What they said:
Will Williams starred in Lancashire’s win over Surrey at Guildford with a brilliant 4-30 from seven overs – the second best haul of his List A career (4-20 v Derbyshire last year was the best).
And the seam bowling New Zealander is relishing the prospect of backing that performance up when the county head to Lord’s.
Williams, 30, will embark on a career first in North London.
“I haven’t played a game there before. I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said. “Any time you play at a venue with the history of Lord’s, you can just go out with a smile on your face and enjoy the day and the experience.”
Still, as much as this will be a memorable day for many of the Lancashire players yet to play at the famous old venue, the most important thing is picking up two all-important points to boost the county’s chances of knockout qualification.
“We’re still in with a chance of making the finals, and we back ourselves to do that,” said Williams.
“It’s just about putting one foot in front of the other and going out and taking it one ball at a time.
“It’s still on our radar as a goal. That’s why the guys came out and pushed as hard as they did (in the chase against Surrey), because we know net run-rate may come into it.”
Lancashire won their last List A trip to Lord’s – in the 2019 quarter-final when they won by 20 runs defending 305. Keaton Jennings top-scored with 96 in 304-4 before Saqib Mahmood claimed 4-38 in Middlesex’s 284.
The Red Rose went on to be beaten by Hampshire in the semi-final.