Middlesex batsman confident that centuries will come in County Championship

07:31 18 July 2014

Paul Stirling of Middlesex. Pic: Matt Bright

Paul Stirling of Middlesex. Pic: Matt Bright


Paul Stirling hopes a maiden four-day hundred is not too far away after marking his run in the Middlesex side with a glut of half-centuries.

Stirling has passed 50 four times in his last five innings in the County Championship, including two half-centuries during Middlesex’s drawn match against Somerset at Uxbridge last week.

So far, the Irishman’s highest four-day score is an unbeaten 66 in last month’s defeat by Nottinghamshire, but he is less concerned about reaching three figures than continuing his transition from limited-overs specialist to all-round county cricketer.

And Stirling, who opens the batting for the Panthers’ one-day side, feels he has particularly benefited from going in much further down the order in the County Championship.

“It’s nice to get the opportunity to go out there and play,” said Stirling. “As a professional, you’ve got to be flexible and go wherever the skipper and coach tell you to go.

“I’ve been coming in at no 7 and by then we’ve usually laid a pretty good platform, so it’s been nice to come in and play with a bit of freedom and score as many runs as possible.

“At that position you get to do different roles in the team – you could be coming in trying to set up a declaration or, if the side’s struggling, you might need to battle hard.

“So it’s been great in that sense. I’m happy to score some runs for the team and hopefully I’m starting to develop into a better red-ball player.

“If I get the chance and stay in form, hopefully I can push on and score tons in the future. I’ve scored a couple of first-class tons for Ireland, but it’d be a dream come true if that happened at Lord’s.”

The 23-year-old Ireland international has been a mainstay of Middlesex’s limited-overs side for the last three years, but has recently featured more frequently in County Championship cricket.

And, although Stirling has yet to taste victory in the four-day format, he believes Middlesex can yet force their way into the title race by beating Yorkshire in their next game.

The Lord’s side are currently 20 points behind their third-placed opponents, but can close that gap significantly by pulling off a victory at Scarborough in the match that gets under way on Saturday.

“Yorkshire are a very strong side – they perform well every year and they’ve still produced match-winning displays even without a couple of their best players, who have been on England duty,” added Stirling.

“We’ve been in great positions in the last three games we’ve played, but we just haven’t quite got across the line. Hopefully we can continue that pattern up in Scarborough and this time get a win.

“If we get a couple of wins in a row we’ll be right up there – and at the same time you have to know that if it doesn’t go your way you could go down a couple of places and be in trouble.

“So it’s a really interesting time and I think it can make captaincy a bit more difficult, knowing when to declare and when not to, especially if the pitches are playing as well as they have been.”

While he has been bedding down into Middlesex’s County Championship side of late, Stirling has been largely absent from their NatWest T20 Blast schedule – the format that was widely regarded as his strongest suit.

Initially missing out due to a broken right index finger, Stirling was then rested from the side when it became clear that the Panthers’ chances of qualifying for the knockout phase were minimal.

However, he returned to the line-up last Friday, top-scoring with a knock of 64 from just 41 balls as Middlesex sprang a surprise at Southampton, where they defeated Hampshire by 50 runs – only their second success in the South Group this season.

And Stirling is keen to build on that performance when the Panthers’ 50-over campaign begins in the coming week – not just with the bat, but in his secondary role as an off-spinner as well.

“My finger’s recovering well – it feels ok batting at the moment and hopefully in another week or so it’ll be perfect to bowl with as well,” he said. “By the time those one-dayers come up, I think it’ll be 100 per cent right.

“I have to use all the experience I’ve got of one-day cricket – I’ve played a lot of it over the last five years and I think we’re all looking forward to the 50-over tournament, to be honest.

“I think we are a very strong 50-over side and hopefully we can prove that. The group is always going to be tough, but getting to a Lord’s final would be great.”

Latest Sport Stories

Great Britain's James Ward (far right) with Great Britain captain Leon Smith, Jamie Murray and Andy Murray

Great Britain stand on the verge of history in the Davis Cup as they prepare for this weekend’s final, bidding to win the crown for the first time in 79 years.

Chris Rainsford (left) in action on the road for Highgate Harriers. Pic: Dieter Perry

Highgate Harriers were crowned national champions on Sunday as the prestigious UK 10k road race championships were held as part of the 30th anniversary of the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash.

Karl Oliyide (left) scored Wingate & Finchley's goal on Saturday. Pic: Martin Addison

Wingate & Finchley missed the chance to go second in the Ryman League Premier Division on Saturday after conceding an 88th-minute equaliser away at East Thurrock.

Harry Kane celebrates his second goal against West Ham on Sunday (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Ex-Tottenham captain Gary Mabbutt believes Harry Kane can become an all-time great for club and country.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil (left) celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the game against Dinamo Zagreb. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Uche Amako says the club’s record signing is making the most of his peak years.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil (right) celebrates with Olivier Giroud after scoring his side's first goal against Dinamo Zagreb.

Arsene Wenger is confident that Arsenal can defy history by overcoming Olympiacos in Greece next month to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Yesterday, 21:32
Alexis Sanchez scores Arsenal's third goal (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal eased to a 3-0 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb to keep their Champions League hopes alive. Here’s how we rated the Gunners.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder