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  • Writer's pictureSean Sandys

Captain's Gone, Who will take his place?

Sussex captain Tom Haines is set to miss this weeks clash against Middlesex, so who are Sussex turning too to fill the void?

Sussex make the prestigious trip this week up the 81 miles of M25 to Lords. An ever infamous and historic occasion for any cricketer, in not too distant years gone by this has been a high caliber top tier fixture. However, the same cannot be said with regards to the clash beginning this hot Tuesday morning. Sussex are slumbering lazily and in their fans eyes depressingly at the bottom of Division two with no hope of promotion and the only remaining driving force being pride and fear of back to back wooden spoons. Middlesex on the other hand have done themselves a world of good, constructing a dominant outfit which has battled hard all season long and, to the surprise of most, sits top of the division with promotion firmly within their reach. So, a one sided affair? Well, that isn't and simply can never justifiably be the case in the County Championship such is the dramatic nature of the competition. Conditions, time, pitches, players and so much more act as great levellers ensuring that every single match staged can easily slip either way. In fact it will be firmly planted on the brains of Middlesex players the fact that anyone can win, having been stunned into submission by Derbyshire not too long ago. So this historic Lords clash hangs tightly in the balance, evenly poised for a thrilling four days...

As before mentioned Tom Haines will not be able to play this game, in fact it is expected that he will be missing in action for 5 to 6 weeks following a blow in last weeks match versus Leicestershire which broke his hand and caused him to retire hurt. In his place the heavy burden of captaincy looms large, the likes of Pujara, Orr, Hudson-Prentice and Finn have all been thrown about with regards to solving this issue. Fortunately for Sussex fans this week marks the long awaited return of Finn Hudson-Prentice following a healthy stay on the injury bed. One month trialists Karvelas and Currie have been hauled in to improve bowling stocks due to the absences of Crocombe and Atkins whilst Alsop, Pujara, Carter and Orr are the men trusted with cementing the top order. Its a week, depleted and feeble outfit if I'm being honest. Sussex's bowling woes seem only set to continue as Atkins and Crocombe fall from the fray and without their talismanic opener/captain Tom Haines their batting could be equally feeble and submissive as well. The last hope is a rallying fight and some much needed experience displayed by Finn, Pujara and Hudson-Prentice.

On brighter notes Middlesex once again have been afforded the luxury of assembling a mighty squad for this fixture. Years of success, buckets of history, a world class in door school and desirable location has long allowed Middlesex to attract thousands of talented cricketers and going into this fixture it once again displays that this is still the case. The England lions heroic Eskinazi returns to duty alongside the overseas pro Pieter Malan. Test international and wily campaigner who this year has once again proved his worth Tim Murtagh will lead the formidable side backed up by John Simpson, Robbie White and the Indian overseas paceman Umesh Yadav. Middlesex will be targeting a return to winning ways this week having lost in their last outing versus Worcestershire, it was the first sign of bazball in the county game as Ed Pollock smashed his side to victory in imperious style. A Notts loss however has helped them remain battling at the top of the table and with such a healthy, talented, experienced and destructive 14 man squad named victory against a weakened Sussex side should feasibly be a walk in the park, right?

Its hard to guarantee much in live sport, but an action packed, scintillating and eye catching encounter between two historic sides in a historic ground can be easily stapled in. This match hangs in the balance and will do for much of the first two maybe even three days before the survival of the fittest takes hold and the winner will emerge. I am as ever bubbling with excitement to witness greats of their discipline such as Murtagh, Finn, Pujara, Yadav and Malan battle it out in what promises to be an entertaining and climactic encounter. It will be available via club websites and YouTube, whilst radio will be situated online via the BBC website. Make sure not to miss it! And I guess the final thing to say is see you there!

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