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Specsavers County Championship

MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire v Middlesex

MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire v Middlesex

PREVIEW: Lancashire CCC v Middlesex CCC, Specsavers County Championship

Lancashire’s first defeat of the season in the Specsavers County Championship, a heavy reverse to Yorkshire at Headingley inside three days at the weekend, was met with a message of ‘no need to panic’ from Glen Chapple.

So what better way to bounce back than by beating defending champions Middlesex at Southport’s Trafalgar Road, starting tomorrow.

Lancashire are bidding for their second win in six this season against a Middlesex side who have drawn each of their four matches so far.

Coach Chapple will be able to call upon the services of Liam Livingstone after he missed the Yorkshire defeat due to Lions duty.

England Test quick Jimmy Anderson is making good progress following his groin injury suffered late last month, but this match comes too soon for him.

THE MATCH

Lancashire CCC v Middlesex CCC

Southport and Birkdale CC

Friday 9 June – Monday 12 June

Specsavers County Championship

OPPONENTS

Lancashire are fifth in Division One with with 54 points from their five matches, 28 points behind leaders Hampshire with a game in hand.

Middlesex sit sixth nine points behind the Red Rose having only played four matches.

They have drawn matches against Hampshire, Essex, Surrey and, most recently, Somerset this season, with the nearest they came to a victory being against Essex at Lord’s in April when the current leaders only just hung on as they were helped by some rain.

Like Lancashire, Middlesex will also be boosted by a returning Lion in top order batsman Dawid Malan.

Opener Sam Robson has scored 319 runs from two Championship matches this season, but he has not played since early May due to a hamstring injury. He could return this week.

Stevie Eskinazi has also impressed this summer as he nears 400 runs. The middle order player scored his maiden century against Lancashire at Lord’s last year.

Australian overseas batsman Adam Voges misses out with a torn calf.

LAST TIME OUT

These two sides played out two Championship draws last season, with the latter coming at Emirates Old Trafford in September.

Middlesex were on top in the penultimate match of the season as they chased the title, which they later achieved by beating Yorkshire at Lord’s during the final week.

Having posted 327 in their first innings, the visitors reduced Lancashire to 6-4 in reply as the Red Rose battled to avoid relegation, another achievement to be secured in the final week of the campaign.

Thankfully, opener Rob Jones led the recovery with a brilliant 106, with his celebration one of the images of 2016.

Liam Livingstone and Tom Bailey added important fifties to a score of 259.

Jones, 20-years-old, became the youngest Lancashire batsman to carry his bat since Cyril Washbrook in 1935.

Now into day three, it took Middlesex 85 overs to post a second-innings 240-8 declared, leaving Lancashire an impossible target of 309 from 44 overs on day four.

They finished on 80-1 from 26, with the nine points crucial to their survival bid.

Lancashire’s last Championship win over Middlesex came in 2006, by 10 wickets at Lord’s when current assistant coach Mark Chilton was captain and Brad Hodge scored a first-innings 161. Dominic Cork took eight wickets in the match.

Their last home win came at Old Trafford in 1994 when, despite a 361-run victory margin, they came out with a points haul of minus five having been docked 25 for a sub-standard pitch.

Neil Fairbrother hit a second-innings double century.

WHAT THEY SAID

One of the few plus points from Lancashire’s recent Roses defeat was the performance of fledgling fast bowler Saqib Mahmood, 20.

It was Mahmood’s first outing of the season, and he claimed 3062 from 22 over s in the first innings, including the wickets of Jack Leaning and Tim Bresnan in two balls during the second morning.

He was the pick of Lancashire’s bowlers.

Mahmood played in the draw at Hampshire last year on a flat pitch, bowled well, didn’t get the rewards he deserved and was left out for Lancashire’s next game.

He hopes that will not happen to him again at Southport.

“I’ve been waiting a while to play again,” he said. “Hampshire was a tough game. There wasn’t much to do as a bowler on there.

“It’s not nice being dropped after one game, so I just thought ‘if that’s going to happen, make sure I don’t leave anything out there (at Yorkshire)’.

“It was a chance for me to put my hand up and put pressure on Chappie to see me as an option as well.

“I haven’t really played at Southport that much. But from what I’ve been told, it helps the spinners more than the seamers. We’ll have to see how it goes.”

Chapple added: “Saqy did well. He’s had a tough start to the season with injury, a little bit of loss of form at the start. So for him to come back and take three-for was a good effort.

“I think he’s had challenges because he’s played representative white ball cricket. Technical changes happen when you’re in a different format.

“He’s been working hard at his skills with the red ball and has waited for his chance. I thought did really well.”

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