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MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire vs Middlesex

MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire vs Middlesex

Lancashire have started September with a bang, wrapping up a comprehensive win over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road on Wednesday.

Lancashire vs Middlesex
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
Sunday September 10 - Wednesday September 13, 2023
Emirates Old Trafford
Match sponsored by C&C Insurance Brokers

Centuries for Josh Bohannon (175) and George Balderson (115) stood out, but an equally impressive aspect was a couple of ruthless bowling displays in which everybody contributed.

Lancashire won by an innings, yet only Luke Wells completed a five-wicket haul during the fourth morning. There were a host of other two and three-wicket hauls, indicating that all the bowlers are in form.

Unfortunately for Lancashire, who are now fourth in the table thanks to victory number three, the dream of winning the Championship is beyond them for 2023.

Leaders Surrey and Essex are rattling along at the top of the table and can’t be caught by Keaton Jennings and co.

Yet third place is very much up for grabs. The Red Rose are 22 points behind Hampshire with a game in hand.

And achieving that would further rubber-stamp the Red Rose’s consistency in this competition over the last couple of years, in which they finished second in 2021 and then again in 2022.

Looking at the table as it is now, Lancashire will have played the bottom four teams in September.

Following bottom side Northamptonshire will be Middlesex at home. Nottinghamshire at home and Kent away are both to follow. Northamptonshire, Middlesex and Kent are battling to avoid the bottom two places for relegation.

Middlesex were beaten by Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday but are just above the drop zone - six points clear of Kent.


This is Middlesex’s first season back in Division One following promotion last summer.

It hasn’t been the easiest season for coach Richard Johnson and captain Toby Roland-Jones. They failed to make an impression in either white ball competition, and they have lost seven of 11 Championship games so far.

They have actually won as many games as Lancashire have - three - but have lost six more times.

Middlesex come into this fixture on the back of a 297-run defeat at Essex earlier this week. It was a game in which non of their batters posted a fifty, while Josh de Caires claimed 10 wickets with his off-spinners, including his second eight-wicket haul of the summer.

All-rounder Ryan Higgins is their leading run-scorer with 698 runs, including seven fifties, while highly-rated new ball seamer Ethan Bamber has taken 35 wickets.

South African batter Pieter Malan played eight games as their overseas player, but he has since returned home.

Opposing player to watch:

Middlesex Academy product Ryan Higgins returned to Lord’s at the start of the season following five seasons at Gloucestershire.

While, as aforementioned, he is their leading run-scorer in the Championship this year, he has also taken 30 wickets with his skilful seamers.

He is not blessed with pace by any stretch, but he does get plenty of movement when conditions suit. In many ways, the 28-year-old is a younger version of Darren Stevens, the ex-Kent all-rounder who graced county cricket for so many years.
Higgins has a first-class best of 199 with the bat and 7-42 with the ball.

Zimbabwean-born, he came through the Middlesex age-groups before opting to move away from Lord’s to the West Country with Gloucestershire in 2017.

He returned home to Middlesex on a four-year contract last winter.

Previous meeting:

Lancashire beat Middlesex by 104 runs in late September 2019 at Emirates Old Trafford, a match in which they secured the Division Two title.

The Red Rose had already been promoted to the top-flight a week before with victory over Derbyshire, and they sealed the title in the first innings with bonus points.

Lancashire enjoyed a fabulous first day, despite being bowled out for 259. Liam Livingstone top-scored with 84 before Middlesex slumped to 39-6 in reply.

However, the visitors recovered to 337 all out on day two thanks to a brilliant 167 not out from wicketkeeper John Simpson. Tom Bailey finished with 5-78.

Keaton Jennings then top-scored with 97 in Lancashire’s second-innings 347 all out, setting up a target of 270 during the early stages of the fourth day.

Thankfully, Middlesex got nowhere near as Bailey starred again with 5-41 in 165 all out.

Bailey’s match figures of 10-119 remain one of three 10-wicket match hauls in first-class cricket for the Prestonian.

What they said:

Lancashire have won three games this summer - all away from Emirates Old Trafford, where they have drawn three matches so far.

And head coach Glen Chapple is keen for his players to find a way of winning at Headquarters as they bid to win their first Championship title since 2011.

Clearly, the chances of winning the title are gone for this year. But the next three games - two at EOT - can be part of preparations for a title push in 2024.

“We still think that given enough cricket, with the level of our performances, we’ll win games there,” said the former all-rounder.

“We can't get away from the fact that it's a really good cricket surface, but that has pros and cons.

“It's developing our players to play proper cricket, which is what we should be doing. We’re trying to find ways to make sure we can win games and we’ll keep working really hard.”

Chapple added: “We said at the start of the Northamptonshire game, ‘We've been happy with our performances’.

“If you look at the stats of the individual players, it shows we're playing good cricket.

“We were slightly unfortunate with the weather in some games at the start of the year.

“We can only prove that if we finish really strongly.

“We have a recent history of finishing high on the table, and we’re really committed to doing that again.”

How’s Stat!

Lancashire have not lost a Championship home match against Middlesex since September 1996 when Middlesex won at Emirates Old Trafford. Mike Gatting was captain then.

There have been nine home matches since, including at Liverpool and Southport, and Lancashire have won two and drawn seven.

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