CHRIS SILVERWOOD: We're much more than just a Twenty20 side
WE MAY only be one match away from the finals of the highly lucrative Twenty20 Champions League in India – but there is a lot of cricket for us to focus on before then. After taking a stranglehold on the County Championship game against Gloucestershire we
WE MAY only be one match away from the finals of the highly lucrative Twenty20 Champions League in India - but there is a lot of cricket for us to focus on before then.
After taking a stranglehold on the County Championship game against Gloucestershire we were denied the chance of a deserved victory, first by the weather and then a stubborn home tail on the final day at Bristol.
However, we go into this week's Championship game with division two leaders Warwickshire at Uxbridge full of confidence and it is great to see so many of our young players putting their hands up.
The Twenty20 win over one of the top teams in Lancashire saw Dawid Malan score a fantastic match-winning century - the club's first ever 20-over ton-maker. And from being 21-4 it sums up the way we have been playing recently.
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It was a similar story against Gloucestershire. We were 73-4 at the end of the opening day on Friday before Eoin Morgan and Ben Scott started the rescue act. Young Eoin batted out of his skin and went on to make his maiden Championship hundred, finishing on 137 not out. It followed his century against South Africa in the tour match.
Then, we had two more youngsters, Danny Evans and Steven Finn, taking eight wickets between them in the Gloucestershire second innings.
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Indeed, not too long ago, our prospects were not too bright. Now, we are in the finals of the Twenty20, and pushing hard for promotion back to division one of the County Championship.
It is great for Middlesex to be involved in a finals day - the first for 11 years - but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture - promotion back to the top flight. It is where this club belongs.
But we don't want to be seen as Twenty20 specialists, we want to be challenging in all the competitions. We want to be back in the spotlight, competing against the strongest teams. I feel we have a good mix of youth and experience and want to carry our momentum into every competition.
Because of my knee injury this season I've had time to spend with some of the younger players, and although it has been thoroughly frustrating to miss out on playing I've really enjoyed working with them on and off the field.
One of the things we've done this season is to pair some of the senior players with a younger one. I've had Danny Evans under my wing. We want to help the youngsters to progress and keep their feet on the floor. As long as they keep working hard the rewards will come. And it seems to be working. We've got a tremendous crop of young players come through this season - Morgan, Finn, Malan, Evans, Billy Godleman and some like Robbie Williams, who are bubbling under in the seconds.
Everyone is fighting for their place. I'm very close to full fitness at last and I've been in the seconds for the past two weeks. I played Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week and I'm looking to do the same this week.
My target is to return for the last seven games in the Championship and, hopefully, I can make a difference.
I actually captained the seconds against Notts last week and really enjoyed the experience. They are a good bunch, keen to learn and full of energy. They are also a very competitive bunch and talk good cricket on the pitch. If I can help them in any way then it has been worth doing.
I was really pleased to see Alan Richardson back in Championship action and taking wickets on Monday. The pair of us have been injured for most of the season. He followed the same route back to fitness as I have been by playing in the seconds and building up match practice.
My knee is now physically much stronger and once I've shown it can stand up to the rigours of the four-day game I'll be putting my hand up for the first team at last.
And the games are stacking up. After this week's County Championship clash against Warwickshire at Uxbridge, we stay there on Sunday for Durham in the Pro40 before returning to Lord's to meet Worcestershire on Tuesday in another Championship encounter.
Chris Silverwood was
talking to Patrick Mooney