Middlesex batsman starts coming of age
- Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo
A few years ago Paul Stirling seemed to be the archetypal Twenty20 batsman – hard-hitting, fast-scoring and rarely spending much time at the crease.
But, while the Ulsterman has lost none of his attacking qualities, he has begun to blend them with an increasingly mature approach to his batting.
Stirling is enjoying his longest continuous run in the Middlesex side, having featured not only in limited-overs games but also in all but one of the club’s seven County Championship fixtures so far this season.
Proof of his determination to build an innings was evident in Middlesex’s recent four-day clash with Somerset, where he occupied the crease for over three hours to compile 85 on a slow Lord’s wicket.
“It’s not a conscious effort to do something differently, it’s just maybe a bit more maturity that comes with age,” said Stirling. “You don’t get that rush to the head as you do when you’re younger.
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“The more years you play, you sit back and take the situation in a bit more. I think there’s maybe just more responsibility as well to go on and get big scores.
“I’ll always get quick 30s and out but hopefully on more occasions I’ll be able to go on and get match-winning scores. There are always things you can work on and it’s nice to spend more time at the crease.
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“It’s a very tough side to break into – when you’re in the team you’ve really got to take your opportunities. No-one’s really an automatic pick, which works well because it puts everyone under pressure to perform.
“This is one of the strongest batting line-ups I’ve seen at Middlesex in all forms of the game, with a few people coming back and others coming in – that’s a good sign for the future.”
Middlesex have plenty of competition for batting places, given the recent arrivals of Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan after they completed their Indian Premier League commitments, although Adam Voges is now departing London to join up with the Australia squad.
Voges signed off by helping Middlesex to their first win in the Royal London One-Day Cup on Wednesday - although he was only required to face four deliveries as Stirling, with an undefeated 125 from 102 balls, steered his side to a seven-wicket (Duckworth/Lewis method) victory over holders Gloucestershire.
Middlesex travel to Chelmsford to face Essex in the NatWest T20 Blast on Friday before returning to 50-over action two days later, against Sussex at Hove.