Cricket: Middlesex look to make amends
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Head coach Scott hoping for upturn in form
Middlesex supporters must feel tempted to stand on their heads as they survey the Specsavers County Championship table.
The defending champions are third from bottom, with just two wins and three defeats from nine matches.
The title, realistically, cannot be retained and the important thing now is not to look down.
Head coach Richard Scott is upbeat after a meeting with players on Wednesday morning, with five Division One matches remaining, starting with Surrey at The Oval on Monday.
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“We all expressed the hunger and desire to improve over the next month and turn it into a good season,” said Scott, following the club’s narrow failure to qualify for the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Scott took a back seat for that campaign, which was led by the New Zealander Daniel Vettori. Instead, he worked with players not immediately involved in the competition and also looked in on the second team.
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“I’m very much looking forward to getting back to four-day cricket,” he said.
“Even with Toby Roland-Jones and Dawid Malan playing Test cricket we’re looking forward to fielding a very strong side against Surrey.
“Apart from Test calls, Adam Voges has missed most of the season, Sam Robson has had hamstring problems and Paul Stirling has had calf trouble. But we can’t make excuses because we have a big and high quality squad.
“We’re training very hard to make sure we finish the season strong. We will go to The Oval confident that we have prepared well. We’re looking for a good performance there and then kick on in the final matches.”
So how is it, with a third of the season to go, that Middlesex have little or no hope of winning the championship?
“We all thought it was going to be tight, and it is – apart from Essex, who have had an extraordinary season, winning six out of nine,” said Scott.
“But even Hampshire, who are joint second, must be looking over their shoulders and thinking they are only a couple of bad results from being sucked into trouble.
“It’s such a highly competitive league, you can’t just turn up and blow sides away. You’ve got to work your socks off to win a match, though it’s still a bit disappointing that we haven’t had more good results.
“We did have Essex in trouble at Lord’s, and then we had bad light. If we had won that one it would have built confidence and that helps to gather momentum.
“Then, after being pretty well unbeatable for a couple of years, we lost three games. So we have to show character now, get back to basics and rekindle good team togetherness, and with some high quality performances we’ll be fine.
“We pride ourselves on being hard to beat. And the aim over the next few weeks is to climb that table.”