Chris Adams has named a 14 man squad for this game, the names and a possible XI are as follows:
Zander de Bruyn
12th men: Matthew Spriegel, Tim Linley, Chris Jordan
This is as hard a team to pick as there's been this season in my view. There is no doubt that the groundsman will have been asked to prepare as dry a pitch as possible to accentuate our advantage in the spin department. That begs the question of whether Adams will be bold enough to go in with just two seamers thereby strengthening our brittle batting. He could alternatively play Chris Jordan in place of a batsman, probably Arun Harinath (though de Bruyn has done little to justify his place of late). It seems likely that both Spriegel and Linley will miss out either way which is hard on them, continuing their in-out-in-out season of first team cricket.
The good news is that Hamilton-Brown is back in the fray. He has not played first class cricket since that dreadful game against Sussex at Horsham, missing five games in the process but despite that he remains comfortably our leading scorer in Championship cricket. The Hamilton-Brown we'd come to know before June's horrible turn of events would be a massive boost to the team right now.
The not-so-good news is that Kevin Pietersen won't play. The club did apparently enquire as to his availability for this game but he's nowhere to be seen. That means one of two things has happened, either the man himself said he didn't want to play or the ECB have told Surrey he's not available. I sense the latter is more likely, but neither would reflect well on those involved. Whatever has gone on behind the scenes, not being able to select KP at a time when our batting is suffering is a huge blow to our chances.
Middlesex have problems of their own. Their form has taken a turn for the worse with losses to Durham and Sussex in recent weeks and if they're not careful they could be dragged into the relegation mire. Their main spin bowling option, Rayner, will miss this game with a hand injury leaving them relying largely on Tom Smith's left arm spin. They have also dropped John Simpson in favour of Adam Rossington. That's not to say they're without threat, Roland-Jones and Murtagh have more than 80 wickets between them and Denly and Rogers have registered over 1,500 runs.
Given Middlesex's form and home advantage, this is nothing less than a must win game. The weather could play a part with rain forecast at some point on most of the next four days, but hopefully there will be enough time for a result to be had. A defeat here would be a big blow to morale and would make lifting the team for the final month of the season extremely difficult. If the batting, inspired by the former captain's return, can begin to fire and deliver enough runs so that Kartik and Batty can do the business with the ball on a turning pitch, we may begin to see things turn around.