Batsman believes Middlesex have a real chance of Twenty20 success at last
Dawid Malan is confident that Middlesex finally have the right formula to be a genuine force in Twenty20 cricket this season.
The Lord’s side have tended to struggle in the shortest format of the game ever since they were crowned national T20 champions seven years ago – and they won just two of their 14 South Group fixtures in 2014.
But Middlesex have signalled they are not to be taken lightly in this year’s NatWest T20 Blast competition, thrashing Kent Spitfires by 115 runs and following that up with a 42-run victory away to Sussex Sharks.
County records tumbled at Hove as the visitors posted 221-2 – their best ever T20 total – while Malan shared an opening stand of 187 with Paul Stirling, the highest Middlesex partnership in the competition’s history.
Malan, who struck a sparkling unbeaten 115 against Sussex, said: “We haven’t performed as well as we can in the last couple of years, but the whole balance of the team now is a lot better.
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“When you’ve got players like Eoin Morgan, Joe Burns and James Franklin coming in at four, five and six, that’s a fantastic middle order. I think we’ve always lacked that in the past.
“We’ve had Stirlo, who’s done very well at the top with myself, but we haven’t had the big hitters lower down and now we feel like we’ve got a well-balanced team, especially with Steven Finn available.
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“Not playing for England in the Tests may not be great for him, but it’s a massive advantage for us – we have Finny and Kyle Abbott opening the bowling and those are two world-class bowlers.
“We’ve struggled in the past and that has affected us in all formats. You want to win every tournament you play in but, if you lose momentum in one competition, it can be difficult to get yourself up for the next one.
“Hopefully by backing up the Kent win, we’ve shown it wasn’t a fluke and that’s also great for the form the boys have been showing in the County Championship.”
Malan’s appearance in last week’s win over Kent at Lord’s was his first since the opening County Championship game of the season, when he broke his little finger while fielding against Nottinghamshire.
And the 27-year-old left-hander’s place at the top of the order in limited-overs cricket certainly looks secure – as does that of Stirling, who came agonisingly close to centuries in both of those T20 wins.
The Ireland international blazed 90 against Kent and backed it up with 88 at Hove before Abbott returned 5-14 – the second-best figures by a Middlesex bowler in T20 cricket – as Sussex were restricted to 179.
“Stirlo’s been a fantastic player in Twenty20, one-day cricket – anything with the white ball – for a number of years,” added Malan. “To open the batting with him just makes my life a hell of a lot easier.
“I can almost just give him the strike and watch him destroy teams from the other end. It’s good to see him whacking it around and hopefully he can continue like that.”
Middlesex are back in T20 action Thursday night against Hampshire at Southampton and then travel to Cardiff to take on Glamorgan (both 6.30pm).
Their next County Championship fixture, against defending champions Yorkshire at Headingley, gets under way on Sunday.