Coach confident Middlesex can manage at Nottingham without England opener
22:56 12 June 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Coach Richard Scott believes Middlesex’s batting line-up is now strong enough to cope without Sam Robson as they enter the second half of their County Championship campaign.
Robson, who has scored more runs this season than any Middlesex batsman except Chris Rogers, made his England debut in the ongoing first Test against Sri Lanka and misses Middlesex’s next four-day game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, but Scott insists any disruption to the side will be minimal.
In contrast to last year, when the team were heavily reliant on Rogers and Robson for runs, every other batsman has made significant contributions in the first half of the season.
Neil Dexter and Eoin Morgan average above 40, while Dawid Malan has amassed more than 400 runs, and Joe Denly and Paul Stirling both hit key half-centuries in Middlesex’s drawn match at Durham last week.
“Firstly, we were all delighted by Sam’s selection for England,” said Scott. “One of our aims as a club is to produce international players through success on the field.
“We don’t expect to change the side a great deal. Eoin Morgan’s back and, while he and Sam don’t cancel each other out as such, it does mean we have another England player available in the short term.
“What’s great is that we’ve got consistency in our batting line-up now – players are getting runs on a regular basis and it’s not just the same ones every time.
“That’s a sign of the strength we have at the club. There’s competition for places and no place in the side is really assured, but we’ve got to continue the consistency we’ve shown so far.”
Although Malan remains the most likely candidate to open with Rogers at Trent Bridge, the coach confirmed that Stirling – who opens in one-day cricket – is very much in line to feature again as a middle-order batsman.
The Irishman is best known as a fast-scoring limited-overs specialist, but his gritty maiden Championship half-century at Durham helped to ensure that the Lord’s side ground out a draw after conceding a colossal 568-9.
“We had the luxury of playing him at no 7 and he hasn’t played a lot of red-ball cricket, but that was a vital knock for us,” said Scott. “He seemed to thrive under pressure.
“Funnily enough his one-day form has been poor of late – we know how effective he can be in quick bursts but we’ve been encouraging him to play longer innings and he’s made progress there.
“We showed a lot of fighting qualities against Durham – at 40-4 we were staring down the barrel, but the guys stood up to be counted. It’s very heartening when you see the lower to middle order perform like that.”
Following the Nottinghamshire clash, Middlesex take on Somerset in the NatWest T20 Blast on Wednesday (6.30pm) – technically a home game, although it has been moved to The Oval.