Stirling confident Middlesex can win one-day trophy next time
Paul Stirling believes Middlesex can carry their improved one-day form into next summer’s t20 tournament – and even achieve a repeat of their 2008 triumph.
The Panthers finished bottom of their t20 group earlier this year, but performed far better in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition and were only denied a semi-final place on run-rate.
And Stirling, who hit the winning run as Middlesex ended their CB40 campaign with a resounding seven-wicket victory over Group A winners Sussex Sharks on Monday, said: “I don’t think there’s too much to worry about.
“I think we’ve played pretty good cricket in this competition. To come out joint top of the group is a good effort and as a team, we feel pretty positive.
“There were a couple of small things here and there that, if they’d gone our way, we might have qualified. In Twenty20 there’s more focus on that one per cent that might go with or against you.
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“We’ve got a good squad and hopefully next year we can also qualify in the t20. Look at Leicestershire this year – from what I heard, everyone wrote them off beforehand and they went on to win the competition.
“If people say that about us next year, I’d say we’ve got an equal chance of going and doing what Leicestershire did.”
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Spinners Tom Smith (1-22) and Jamie Dalrymple (2-41) were the pick of the bowlers on Monday as Sussex racked up 239-5 from their 40 overs, with Ed Joyce and Chris Nash both hitting half-centuries.
But Middlesex made that target seem easy as Dawid Malan (84) and Sam Robson (65) put on 153 for the first wicket and Stirling, along with stand-in captain Chris Rogers (37), saw them home with almost three overs to spare.
The young Irishman, who has become an integral member of the Panthers’ one-day side this season, struck an unbeaten 46 from just 29 balls to ensure that he finished the campaign as their leading run-scorer in 40-over cricket.
The highlight came just a week earlier, when Stirling rattled up his first Middlesex century to secure victory against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, and he admitted: “That was a massive boost for me.
“I scored my first hundred for Ireland a couple of years ago and that really settled me into the team. Hopefully I’ll move on to the next level now and score a few more hundreds for Middlesex.
“To actually be involved in the first XI in the one-day format for most of the year was something I didn’t believe was going to happen, so I’m very happy to be scoring runs and contributing to the team. Hopefully that will continue.”
With captain Neil Dexter still recovering from a broken finger, Rogers remains in charge of the Middlesex side for their current County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire at Lord’s.
It is not yet clear whether Dexter will be available for Middlesex’s penultimate game against Glamorgan at Cardiff, which gets under way next Wednesday.