Match Previews: Middlesex v Essex | Essex v Sussex Sharks


Middlesex v Essex | Essex v Sussex Sharks

Vitality Blast
Lord’s, London | The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Thursday 13 June, 6:15pm | Friday 14 June, 7:00pm

After a nerve-shredding victory over Glamorgan on Friday night, Essex have been afforded time to recuperate but now face another pair of back-to-back matches as the Vitality Blast continues apace.

The Eagles seemed on course for a big win last week after they had restricted the Welsh side to 166-8, with Paul Walter and Daniel Sams both taking three wickets, before flying to 90-1 in the eighth over.

However, Marnus Labuschagne and Mason Crane engineered a slip to 106-7, only for the precocious Luc Benkenstein to steer Essex to victory with eight balls to spare by hitting 35 not out off 21 deliveries.

Now, Thursday sees the Eagles make the short trip to Lord’s for a return clash with Middlesex, before Sussex Sharks are welcomed to The Cloud County Ground a day later for another Friday night fixture.


Head Coach Anthony McGrath has named the same 14-player squad for the trip to Lord’s and the home clash with Sussex, with Noah Thain and Jamal Richards dropping out.

Sam Cook is making good progress with his hamstring injury, and the Medical Team are taking it day by day as he continues his rehabilitation.

The Inside Line: Paul Walter

The Opposition: Middlesex

After a season of struggle in 2023, this season has not especially started any brighter for Middlesex, with the Seaxes sitting bottom of the South Group having won just one of five matches so far.

They scored a morale-boosting win over Kent Spitfires in Canterbury on Sunday, but apart from that, have been on the wrong end of the result in their other four matches.

That includes losses to Kent and Essex in those reverse fixtures, as well as Glamorgan and Somerset, with the latter one on Tuesday night being especially humbling as they were bowled out for 78.

In doing so, they set a new record for their lowest ever T20 score, and they are now level with Gloucestershire on two points at the foot of the group.

Martin Andersson currently leads the way for the team with the bat, having hit 116 runs, while the 114 amassed by captain Stephen Eskinazi and Max Holden’s 112 are not far behind.

Meanwhile, Luke Hollman is the top wicket-taker with eight, ahead of Tom Helm’s six and four for Henry Brookes.

Middlesex squad: Stephen Eskinazi*, Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber, Henry Brookes, Noah Cornwell, Joe Cracknell, Blake Cullen, Jack Davies, Josh De Caires, Leus Du Plooy, Nathan Fernandes, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Max Holden, Luke Hollman.

Last Time We Met: Middlesex

There is no need to go too far back to find the last time Essex met Middlesex in the shortest format, with that clash having come at The Cloud County Ground less than two weeks ago.

In the Eagles’ first home match of this summer’s Blast, Michael Pepper struck an unforgettable century from just 43 balls as the hosts reeled in a target of 204 to ease to victory by four wickets.

Having been put in to bat, Max Holden hit a quickfire 42-ball 85 to set the Seaxes’ score of 203-7, with Daniel Sams and Paul Walter each taking two wickets.

It was a target that was made to look light from the off, as Pepper slammed 101 from 44, Dean Elgar hit 32 from 21, and Jordan Cox blasted 22 off eight as Essex raced to the target with 2.2 overs to spare.

The Opposition: Sussex Sharks

After a pair of middling seasons in 2022 and 2023 that saw them finish seventh and sixth, respectively, Sussex have had a far stronger start to this year’s competition to sit top of the South Group.

The Sharks, captained by Essex Academy graduate Tymal Mills, have won three of their opening four matches to join 2023 semi-finalists Surrey on six points, and are clear at the summit by net run rate.

A nerve-jangling win over Gloucestershire, chasing 168 from the last ball, opened their campaign, and despite a reverse away to Glamorgan, they have gone on to beat Surrey and Gloucestershire too.

Mills has claimed ten wickets at 12.00 apiece while Daniel Hughes is the leader with the bat in hand after notching 177 at 44.25, with both second in their respective overall competition standings.

Sussex Sharks squad: TBC

Last Time We Met: Sussex Sharks

The Eagles sealed a comfortable win over a below-par Sussex at The Cloud County Ground in early June last year on the most recent occasion of the sides meeting in T20 cricket.

Chasing the Sharks’ 147 all out, which came despite the visitors winning the toss, Essex cruised to a five-wicket victory with more than five full overs to spare.

Sam Cook bowled a scintillating spell to return 4/20 and Paul Walter and Matt Critchley also claimed two wickets each, with Ravi Bopara’s 50 from 31 being the only major contribution for the visitors.

The target was easily overhauled in 14.5 overs as Michael Pepper top-scored with 48 from 26 and Adam Rossington hit a 17-ball 35, with Critchley hitting Shadab Khan for the winning four.

South Group Table

How To Watch

If you are not able to attend either or both matches, each will be live-streamed on YouTube – on the Middlesex channel on Thursday and then the usual EssexCricketTV on Friday – with both being available to watch via the Essex Cricket Matchzone.

A report will be published on the Club website at the conclusion of each game, while live updates and highlights from both will be provided on the Essex Cricket social media channels.


An extremely limited number of tickets remain for the Sussex fixture on Friday, with prices starting at £33 for adults, £28 for young adults and students, and £10 for juniors.

The Kenton Group Stand at the Graham Gooch End of the ground is the designated family stand for this year’s Vitality Blast, with blocks 27-29 being alcohol-free and blocks 30 & 31 being the alcohol-tolerant family area.

Seats are more plentiful for Thursday’s clash at the Home of Cricket, with blocks in the Grand, Compton, Edrich, and Mound Stands all still showing good availability.

Spectators planning to attend this match may also like to note that it forms the second half of a double-header, with Sunrisers taking on The Blaze from 2:15pm in the Charlotte Edwards Cup; your ticket will grant you access to both fixtures.

Tickets for the double-header trip to Middlesex can be purchased by clicking this link:

Meanwhile, the limited tickets that remain for the home game with Sussex are available on this link:

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex are now back in Vitality Blast action for 2024.

With the Eagles having won back-to-back home matches to start the campaign, demand for tickets remains exceptionally high.

As the Eagles continue to aim towards going one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here