Match Previews: Middlesex & Gloucestershire

Thursday 15th June 2023

Men’s First Team

Vitality Blast

Match Previews: Middlesex & Gloucestershire

Kent Spitfires face two away trips in two days as the task of facing Middlesex at Lord’s on Friday night following a Saturday evening showdown with Gloucestershire at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol.

Grant Stewart currently has 12 wickets for the Spitfires, averaging 18.16. Michael Hogan has 11 wickets, whilst Fred Klaassen’s three wickets in two matches are with an economy rate of 7.37.

After an impressive knock of 89 last time out, Daniel Bell-Drummond is Kent’s current top run scorer with 247 runs, striking at 151.53. Joe Denly has 175 runs, whilst Bell-Drummond & Stewart currently share the top of the Spitfires’ six-hitting charts with six apiece.

Match Previews of Kent’s Vitality Blast fixtures are proudly sponsored by Shepherd Neame >>>

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment & lock in supporting your Spitfires now in an exciting Summer of white-ball cricket:

Buy tickets now

Last Time Out

A brilliant 89 from Daniel Bell-Drummond helped the Kent Spitfires keep their Vitality Blast hopes alive with a six-wicket win over the Hampshire Hawks at Canterbury on Friday night.

View full scorecard

Joe Denly made 41 in a stand worth 91 for the second wicket with Bell-Drummond as the Spitfires closed on 180 for four, for only their second win of the campaign.

A tight penultimate over from Nathan Ellis which went for just two, gave the visitors made things tenser than expected, but Jack Leaning hit the winning boundary off Chris Wood with three balls remaining.

Earlier Hampshire had made 177 for seven, Joe Weatherley anchoring the innings with 67, after Ben McDermott creamed 57 from 30 balls, but they paid the price for failing to cash in after the duo had taken them to 112 for two from 12 overs. Fred Klaassen had Kent’s best bowling figures with two for 31 while Grant Stewart took two for 39.

Match Coverage

Middlesex vs. Kent Spitfires will be live streamed by Middlesex Cricket, with a YouTube stream accessible via the Match Centre on the Kent Cricket website, which also features a live updating video scorecard.

Gloucestershire vs. Kent Spitfires will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Cricket in the UK (from 18:55 for a 19:00 start).

Live match updates will also appear on the Club’s social media channels.

Opposition Report: Middlesex

  • Captain: Stephen Eskinazi
  • Overseas player: Pieter Malan (South Africa).
  • Finals Day appearances: 1 (2008)
  • 2022 finish: Eighth (South Group)
  • 2022 leading runscorer: Stephen Eskinazi (431)
  • 2022 leading wicket taker: Martin Andersson (17)

Middlesex’s winter plans were torn up when left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj suffered serious injury days after signing for this competition and he’s yet to be replaced. However, both South African Pieter Malan and all-rounder Ryan Higgins have been added since the Seaxes underwhelming showing last season, so giving their line-up a more robust feel.

  • The big question: There are a number. How much difference will a genuine ‘finisher’ like Higgins make to Middlesex’s batting prowess? Will Blake Cullen recover from last season’s injuries to bolster an attack too often put to the sword in this format? And did Eskinazi learn anything from his stint in the Big Bash League with which to inspire his troops?
  • Wildcard watch: Joe Cracknell – With only two players, snapped up so far, several Middlesex players have cases to make. However, in a game where fans want to see big hits, franchises might want to take a look at Cracknell, an exciting young batter who strikes a long ball and who’s impressed in the Blast in recent seasons.

Having a ‘finisher’ like Higgins back in harness gives Middlesex a better balance with the bat. Others like Cracknell and young quicks Toby Greatwood and Max Harris are now a year older, but they may need Blake Cullen fit and Tom Helm at his best to improve on just two quarter-final appearances since lifting the trophy in 2008.

Opposition Report: Gloucestershire

  • Captain: Jack Taylor
  • Overseas players: Grant Roelofsen (South Africa), Zafar Gohar (Pakistan)
  • Finals Day appearances: 3 (2003, 2007, 2020)
  • Titles: 0
  • 2022 finish: Fifth (South Group)
  • 2022 leading run-scorer: Glenn Phillips (340)
  • 2022 leading wicket taker: David Payne (18)

Gloucestershire are a team in transition following the departure of established stars Benny Howell, Ian Cockbain and Ryan Higgins. Financial pressures have precluded the return of overseas batsman Glenn Phillips and South African wicketkeeper-batter Grant Roelofsen has been recruited to help plug the gap in the top order. Pakistani spinner Zafar Gohar has been contracted for the entirety of the competition.

  • The big question: Can Roelofsen reproduce the white-ball form that made him a big hit with Essex in the One Day Cup last year? A proven top-order batsman, the 26-year-old South African scored 355 runs at an average of 59.16 across seven matches and achieved a highest score of 90 against Yorkshire at Chelmsford in the 50-over competition. His most impressive figures have come in T20 cricket, in which he has scored 1,349 runs in 44 innings at 34.58 and at a strike-rate of 125.37.
  • Wildcard watch: Graeme van Buuren – Released by Birmingham Phoenix, he possesses the skill-set required to be an effective operator in The Hundred. A serious shoulder injury wrecked his T20 campaign in 2022, but the experienced South African all-rounder is back and firing on all cylinders. His canny slow left-arm bowling and ability to bat anywhere in the top and middle order render him a versatile type, suitable to cope with all manner of situations.

Gloucestershire’s chances of success will, in large degree, be dependent upon the ability of up-and-coming Academy products to learn on the job. Gone are the days when they could afford to splash the cash and the county has instead opted to go with youth in place of expensive specialists. Benn Wells made the transition to first-team T20 cricket last year and will be joined by talented young brothers Tom and Ollie Price in attempting to establish themselves as effective performers in the Blast.

Squad News

Men’s Head Coach Matt Walker has named a squad of 14 to make the trips to Middlesex & Gloucestershire on successive days.

Nathan Gilchrist has been added to an otherwise unchanged squad from victory over Hampshire Hawks, with the 23-year-old now fit again after injury. Matt Quinn & Wes Agar have been rested after Kent’s LV= Insurance County Championship match with Surrey.

Earmarked T20 overseas players, George Linde & Kane Richardson, are both included, with two overseas players permitted in the Playing XI. Arshdeep Singh is only available for Kent in the County Championship, as per the terms of his Overseas spell.

Zak Crawley is with England’s Test setup ahead of the start of the Ashes on Friday.

Kent’s full Matchday Squad, presented by Shepherd Neame >>>

Kent Spitfires matchday squad vs. Middlesex & Gloucestershire: Sam Billings (Captain), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Alex Blake, Jordan Cox, Joe Denly, Joey Evison, Nathan Gilchrist, Michael Hogan, Fred Klaassen, Jack Leaning, George Linde (Overseas player), Tawanda Muyeye, Kane Richardson (Overseas player), Grant Stewart.

Friday night T20s are back soon!

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment & lock in supporting your Spitfires now in an exciting Summer of white-ball cricket:

Buy tickets now

Members do not need to pre-book their space at T20 matches as per last season – entry will be gained by scanning a valid 2023 Kent Cricket Membership card at the gate.