With a wealth of talent on show this winter from both Middlesex and Surrey players alike, fans have been watching the international circuit in anticipation of the upcoming county season to see how their home favourites have fared. Here’s a look at how this year is currently shaping up for England’s Middlesex and Surrey stars…
Eoin Morgan has had a fantastic 2017 so far, leading England from the front in their continued resurgence in the shorter format of the game. The England captain and Middlesex batsman silenced doubters with a brilliant 102 off 81 balls in the 2nd ODI against India. Morgan has already amassed 298 runs with an average of 49.66 in 50 over cricket and will look to carry his form on into the Champions Trophy later this year. Whilst Morgan’s form has been eye-catching with the bat, his captaincy has also continued to prove highly successful and innovative in the series’ against both India and the West Indies. Morgan is one of the main men that can be accredited with England’s success and improvement in the shorter format of the game, with his new found approach and attitude influencing the players around him to also perform to the best of their ability and play their natural game. Morgan has already expressed his desire to continue the captaincy for as long as possible, and England will value both his captaincy and batting ability as they continue onwards. If Morgan continues performing for both his country and county as he has already this year then both sides should perform exceptionally well in the coming months.
After missing out on selection for England’s limited overs squad travelling to India, Steven Finn returned to England duty in the West Indies in March. Having, on occasion, struggled to find consistency over the past few years within the shorter format of the game (not helped by his being plagued by injuries) Finn was looking in good form. Though Finn did not take as many wickets as some of his fellow bowlers, his accuracy and consistency throughout the three games was a very pleasing sight for both England and Middlesex fans alike. When looking back on the West Indies series Finn can be considered unlucky to have not walked away with more wickets, but his low economy rate and ability to restrict the batsman stands him in good stead for the rest of the year, fitness permitting. Finn is currently playing in the North-South series and, as one of the more senior players in the squad, can use this opportunity to display his talent in hope of retaining his spot in the England squad for the Ireland and South Africa series.
As part of the formidable opening partnership with Alex Hales, Jason Roy has proven to be an integral part of England’s new look limited overs team. His big hitting and quick run scoring that ensured such a successful 2016 have continued into the new year both in international and franchise cricket. With an average of 50.33 in the six ODI games he has played this year, Roy has seized every opportunity to prove that he is worthy of his place opening for his national side in the upcoming series and Champions Trophy in June. Surrey fans will hope that Roy will continue his early form into the summer as he will be an integral part of their Natwest Twenty20 Blast campaign. Having scored more than 50 on four occasions, Roy has been a key component on England being able to keep surpassing the 300 mark, his ability to gift his national side a good start having a positive effect on players further down the order. With Hales back from injury in phenomenal style in the final ODI, the pair will be hoping to replicate some of the blistering partnerships they have had in the past.
Tom Curran, whilst not playing in the three ODIs, was called up as cover for Jake Ball after an impressive performance for the England Lions. Curran, who 10 wickets across the two Tests, has consistently churned out impressive performances for both the England Lions and his county over the past few years. Curran’s performance against the United Arab Emirates in December undoubtedly contributed to his call-up this year, taking 5 wickets for just 16 runs off his 8 overs. As such, it will be interesting to see how Curran features in the upcoming months, with England’s next limited overs performance being against Ireland in May. With a number of prominent players being unavailable due to Indian Premier League commitments, Curran could get his chance to show England that he has the ability to perform at the highest level and give the selectors a nudge ahead of the Champions Trophy in June.
Players to look out for
Elsewhere, for the England Lions, Middlesex and Surrey players have been out in force, facing Sri Lanka A in a two-match Test and five-match ODI series. Some of the top performers for Middlesex included Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Helm and Ollie Rayner, whilst for Surrey it was the Curran brothers who were most effective. The wealth of bowling talent on display in the Lions fixtures from the two counties showed glimpses of what might be expected this season and perhaps in England’s future. Roland-Jones was particularly impressive across the two formats, taking regular wickets with a low economy rate, a particularly good sign for Middlesex as they look to retain their County Championship title. Similarly, the young Tom Helm, showed particular promise in the limited overs side, claiming a 5-fer in his 8 overs bowled in the fifth and final ODI. As for Surrey, whilst Tom Curran’s performance earned him an England call up, his younger brother Sam showed why he is just as highly regarded and being considered as ‘one for the future’. Sam Curran played particularly well in the first Test against Sri Lanka A, claiming 3 wickets for just 21 runs in the first innings. Whilst perhaps not quite ready for the next step-up, he is certainly heading in the right direction, and if he can have a strong season for Surrey he will, like his brother, be pressing for an England call up.
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