Middlesex begin their T20 Title defence on Sunday as they host Hampshire and Sussex at Mill School.
The hosts welcome back T20 players wicketkeeper Amara Carr and opening quick Lauren Bell to the side which retained the London Cup at Lord’s last month. Carr will bolster the batting line-up and add pressure behind the stumps – especially important in T20 cricket. Bell will likely open with Katie Wolfe and her ability to bowl accurate inswingers could prove key in taking early wickets. Wolfe enjoyed success against Berkshire, taking an impressive 3-12, and will look to continue her economical bowling in the shorter format. Middlesex can call on Sophia Dunkley again with both bat and ball as she returns from England A duties, seeking to continue her fine form and push for England T20 selection. In the County Championship Dunkley has accrued an impressive 497 runs at the excellent average of 82.83. The experienced duo of Beth Morgan and Olivia Rae both showed the importance of taking singles when under pressure last week. This is an important skill to be utilised in T20s, while the pair also have the ability to find the boundary, as Rae showed on the first ball she faced. Leg-spinner Emily Thorpe will hope her three wickets in last week’s win over Berkshire are a taste of what’s to come.
Sussex have some strong players including England and Kia Super League representatives who will all be aiming for strong performances to gain selection later in the season. Allrounder Georgia Elwiss is returning from injury but did well last week against Kent scoring 53. Sussex skipper and season-leading run-scorer Georgia Adams and fellow opener Izzy Collis also batted well, scoring 65 and 67, and will be key wickets. With the ball Sussex will probably open with England’s Freya Davies and Loughborough Lightning’s Tara Norris who have claimed seven and 11 wickets for the county this year. Left-armer spinner Linsey Smith is a third Sussex player who will be hoping for early success for the county as she vies for an England spot having made her debut in the World T20 last year.
Hampshire have a strong set of allrounders in Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Fi Morris and Katie George who have all performed this season and will have key roles to play on Sunday. Morris is the county’s second leading run-scorer with 174. Hampshire’s batting will also be strengthened by the addition of South Australian and Adelaide Strikers player Sam Betts. With ball in hand spinner Morris has been the key, claiming 12 at 19.25, and will aim to continue her form in the T20s. Fellow spinner Providence Cowdrill has also been important in Hampshire’s attack, picking up 12 scalps.
Middlesex play Sussex at 10:30am and Hampshire at 4:30pm, so head to Mill Hill School to support the hosts in their T20 Title defence.