CHRIS SILVERWOOD: A great finish - but third isn't good enough

WHAT a great finale. We followed up last week s excellent victory over promoted Worcestershire with a 93-run victory against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in the last County Championship match on Saturday. And for the second successive year we ve finis

WHAT a great finale. We followed up last week's excellent victory over promoted Worcestershire with a 93-run victory against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in the last County Championship match on Saturday.

And for the second successive year we've finished third in division two - the best of the rest. But for a club like Middlesex it is simply not good enough.

When you talk to our supporters the one thing they want above all else is a return to division one.

People talk about the gap getting wider between the divisions - they may be right - and we certainly don't want to be left behind.

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Finishing third showed how close the division two has been this season. The silly mistakes we made in certain games have come back to bit us hard.

There were matches we should have won and finished up with draws. The frustrating thing is that we know we have the players to compete at the top level - winning the Twenty20 proved that.

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What we must find for next season is the consistency we showed in our last two Championship matches - we were top class against Northamptonshire last week.

Our top order racked up the runs - 545-7 in the first innings, which included three big centuries from Andrew Strauss (172), Eoin Morgan (136 not out) Owais Shah (114), and 171-2 in the second.

I've been saying all season that if the top order could post big scores we've got the bowlers to polish off games despite being without myself and Alan Richardson for most of this season's matches.

Tim Murtagh finished with more than 100 wickets in all competitions, while Shaun Udal ended the season really strongly. He finished with eight wickets in last week's game, including his first five-wicket haul of the season.

Dirk Nannes also finished superbly, following his career-best 6-32 against Worcestershire with four second innings wickets to polish off Northamptonshire.

So, my reflections of the season. The positive has to be, of course, winning the Twenty20 Cup on a gloriously sunny July Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

At the start of the season we set out to win a trophy - perhaps not the one we expected to win - but with the added bonus of a nice trip to Antigua and the big cash Stanford Series games.

But on the negative side, there was the huge disappointment of missing out on promotion and relegation in the Pro40. There is a lot of work to be done during the winter to push the club forward to where we want it to be.

The captaincy also needs to be sorted. Ed Smith was out injured for a long period while Ed Joyce has yet to commit himself to the club. The Dubliner plays his cards close to his chest but the fact he has not yet signed a new deal wound indicate he may not be at the club next season.

My player of the year? It has to be Murtagh, who claimed 103 wickets - a great effort. Eoin Morgan pushed him close, particularly for his one-day exploits with the bat. The young Irishman is ready for the next step. Eoin has all the talent, all the shots and perhaps just as important a wise head on young shoulders.

Another young batsman, Billy Godleman, will have learned a lot this season. It has been a tough one for Billy and he needs to work hard over the winter. But as they say form is temporary, class is permanent, and that certainly applies to Billy.

Finally, on a personal level, this season has been a stinker for me because of my knee injury. It has been so frustrating watching from sidelines, especially knowing that I could have made a big difference had I had been fully fit.

What it has done is to heighten my determination to return fully fit for next season and prove that I am worth another contract.

Chris Silverwood was talking to Patrick Mooney

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