Match Preview: Middlesex vs Lancashire
Middlesex v Lancashire - Specsavers County Championship, Division Two
Thursday April 11 - Sunday April 14, 11am
Lancashire’s Division Two campaign gets underway against one of their fellow pre-season promotion favourites.
Coached by a Red Rose favourite in Stuart Law, many people having been tipping the promotion places to be filled by three of Lancashire, Middlesex, Sussex and Worcestershire.
However, Sussex were beaten in their opening round fixture at home to Leicestershire, which finished on Monday, while Middlesex drew at Northants having been asked to follow-on.
Lancashire warmed up for this clash against the 2016 county champions with a high-scoring draw against Loughborough University from Friday to Sunday, the highlight of which was Haseeb Hameed’s brilliant first-innings 218.
The county are chasing their first Championship victory at Lord’s since 2006 when Brad Hodge scored a century in the first innings. Law played in the match.
Jimmy Anderson currently sits on 299 first-class wickets for Lancashire.
Australian overseas star Glenn Maxwell and on-loan seamer Mark Footitt are in line for their competitive debuts for the Red Rose.
Footitt’s inclusion having signed for a month from Nottinghamshire owes to a number of injuries to seam bowlers, including last season’s leading wicket-taker Tom Bailey.
Hameed’s double century against Loughborough will have secured him a place in the top three alongside openers Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies, who is set to regain the gloves. Richard Gleeson is ruled out through injury.
Middlesex won the title in 2016 and then went down the following year, missing out on promotion last year following an underwhelming campaign.
That prompted a change of coach, with ex-Lancashire captain Law replacing Richard Scott immediately at the end of last season on a four-year contract.
Law will coach Middlesex in all competitions, a change in tact at Lord’s following Daniel Vettori’s recent deal to coach them in the Vitality Blast alone.
Middlesex are captained by Dawid Malan and will have England one-day captain Eoin Morgan available. They have not signed an overseas player, however, for Championship cricket.
Middlesex were forced to follow-on against Northants at Wantage Road as they replied to the hosts’ 445. Malan scored a big second-innings century to help them avert danger.
Middlesex won a late season Division One clash by 36 runs at Lord’s in 2017 to end Lancashire’s chances of winning the title, ending up in second place behind Essex.
This was a low-scoring game on a tricky pitch, with Middlesex’s first-innings 233 the highest score of the match.
Tom Bailey claimed five wickets in each innings.
Lancashire, chasing 221, were then bowled out for 184 on day three as Steven Finn claimed 8-79.
WHAT THEY SAID
Dane Vilas believes Lancashire and Middlesex are in the same boat this summer: “Like us, they are going to be under pressure to get back up,” said the Red Rose skipper.
Vilas is relishing the prospect of leading the county’s promotion charge, which starts with a heavyweight clash at the Home of Cricket.
“It’s a massive season for us,” continued Vilas, appointed Lancashire’s permanent captain this winter. “I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s nice to lead a team like this. I did it a little bit last year when Liam (Livingstone) was injured and enjoyed it.
“Our mandate is to get back up into the first division.
“It was disappointing that we went down. And the manner in which we went down, it really hurt.
“We know it’s going to be difficult.
“The pressure is going to be on us to get back up. But that’s something we want to do, so we are not going to shy away from it. We are really going to push ourselves.
“It’s going to be a tough game.
“There’s a lot of good sides who want to perform well and go up, and Middlesex are one of them.”