Australia star optimistic about Middlesex hopes of winning County Championship
- Credit: Matt Bright
Departing Middlesex batsman George Bailey feels the team’s tenacity gives them a fighting chance of becoming county champions at the end of the season.
The Australian, whose spell as the club’s overseas player ended after the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final on Tuesday, was impressed by what he saw during his six weeks at Lord’s.
Bailey’s dogged approach proved vital in his final County Championship appearance for Middlesex as he batted for the best part of four hours to score an unbeaten century and save them from defeat against Surrey.
The eventual draw at Lord’s kept Middlesex 13 points clear at the top of Division One with five games to play – the first of which, against fourth-placed Durham, begins on Saturday.
“Middlesex are a good team with depth and that’s certainly something you need, given the amount of cricket you play,” said Bailey.
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“You can’t rely too heavily on two or three batsmen or two or three bowlers – you need a lot of contributions across a long period of time.
“The squad in general has a really good mix of young guys who are driving and pushing to play for England, some who have played for England and some who have played a lot of cricket and know the grind.
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“The young guys are going really well. I’ve been here for a very small part of the season so I don’t know if that’s enough to pass judgement, but I’ve seen how hard they work and the way they think about the game is really promising.
“It looks like a really even competition and the last round of results have tightened up the ladder even more, so it’s going to be challenging, which I guess it should be to win a championship.
“One thing the boys pride themselves on is being really consistent about the way they play and, if they haven’t been winning, they’ve been very hard to beat.
“Coming into the back end of the season and being in control of their own destiny, that’s a nice place to be – they’re not going to rely on anyone else. If they play well enough, they certainly have a chance.”
The 33-year-old Tasmanian stood firm on the final day against Surrey, joining forces with skipper James Franklin (70) in a partnership of 174 after Middlesex had collapsed to 82-5 in pursuit of an unlikely victory target of 389.
Bailey finished on 110 not out as Middlesex reached safety at 278-6 – a good way to conclude his contribution to their four-day campaign on a Lord’s wicket that has been somewhat variable this season.
“I’ve played in some fantastic games of cricket and the boys have been competitive across all three formats, which always makes it more enjoyable,” added Bailey, who has previously played for Hampshire and Sussex.
“There are some good people here and playing at Lord’s has been great. I’ve enjoyed every stint of county cricket I’ve played, but winning is certainly more fun than losing.
“One of the great challenges about playing here is that each day the wickets are so different. One day you can rock up and it’s a beautiful batting wicket and the next day it can be really slow.
“I think you do get that challenge, with the deterioration of wickets, that we don’t get quite so much at home. You almost have to assess the pace of the wicket at the start of each innings and go from there.
“That’s what separates the really great players over here from a lot of the others – the ability to do that day in, day out.”