Cricket: Stirling expects good contest as Midddlesex host Glamorgan
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Paul Stirling is predicting a great contest between bat and ball when Middlesex begin their inaugural first-class fixture at Radlett CC against Glamorgan on Sunday.
The Hertfordshire outpost has staged seven List A fixtures since becoming the Seaxes' 'home away from home' in 2013, as well as being the Second XI's base, but the visit of the Welsh county will witness the first Specsavers County Championship clash at Cobden Hill.
Ireland international Stirling has spent more time batting there than most and believes the picturesque setting will have something for everybody.
"The wicket at Radlett will be absolutely fine for first-class cricket," he said.
"I think I've played most of my red-ball cricket in England there over the years and I think it is a good cricket wicket.
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"There's a bit in it for the bowlers, especially the first couple of sessions of the opening day, but if you do get in as a batter it's quite a short boundary, so you can score a lot of runs quite fast.
"It may turn a little bit towards the back end of the game too if we do get four clear days, so it should be a great occasion for the club."
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The 28-year-old right-hander regained his place in Middlesex's first XI for this week's trip to Leicestershire, but had to settle for net practice when rain washed out all but 11 overs at Grace Road.
It means Stirling still has not struck a red ball in first-class competition since Ireland's last Test against Afghanistan in March.
He was down to bat at five in the East Midlands and can expect a similar role against Glamorgan, despite spending his white ball and Test career to date predominantly as an opener.
A candid Stirling suggested he has his own inconsistencies to thank for not cementing his place at Middlesex in either role.
"I don't think I've ever found a set position in red-ball cricket," he continued. "Throughout my career it has been a stint opening and then a stint in the middle order.
"So, it has never really settled. I guess that comes from not scoring the amount of runs I'd have liked to because at the end of the day if you did that, you'd probably solidify your spot wherever you'd scored them.
"I don't really know which position I prefer. Sometimes it's nice sticking on the pads straight away and getting out there facing the music, but sometimes, it's a bit easier if you come in when the ball isn't doing quite as much. But the team comes first and you just do whatever job you're asked."
The game at Radlett is not the only first for Stirling and co this week, as they will hot-foot it across the Irish Sea to Dublin to take on Leinster Lightning in the 'Smartwater Summer Smash' on Friday.
The T20 encounter - part of Leinster's Centenary celebrations - pits Stirling against a host of his Irish team-mates including ex-Middlesex man Andy Balbirnie and pacemen Tyrone Kane and Peter Chase.
He knows he'll be a marked man.
"There could be a few bowlers looking for me as we try and get one up on each other," he added.
"That's always the thing in T20. As a batter you've got to try and take them on - there's no hiding place.
"I'll certainly be trying to take them down and hit a few sixes as much as they'll be trying to get me out.
"These days are brilliant because they are so family orientated. It's a big barbecue day with 1000 people in a club ground. It'll definitely be fun, 100 per cent."