Winning games in hand is key to a promotion spot for Middlesex
GOING into this week s County Championship match at Northamptonshire we had two games in hand over the three teams ahead of us – Essex, Nottinghamshire and runaway leaders Somerset. And if we can win both those games it will put us right back in the fram
GOING into this week's County Championship match at Northamptonshire we had two games in hand over the three teams ahead of us - Essex, Nottinghamshire and runaway leaders Somerset.
And if we can win both those games it will put us right back in the frame for that second promotion spot.
Somerset appear to be still streaking ahead at the top - we are 74 points behind - but second place is our big objective and it is very much in our own hands. We trail second-placed Notts by 44 points.
Having trained on the Northants wicket on Monday it looked pretty dry and our intention is to rattle up a big score in the big first innings.
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We know we have the players to do that.
Bowling-wise we need to get 20 wickets and the feeling among the bowlers is that we can bowl them out twice.
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We have Jamie Dalrymple and young Eoin Morgan in the squad for this week's match.
JD is back to top form again and Eoin will be hoping to make his first four-day start this season after impressing in the one-dayers. We all know his great potential and this is a great opportunity for him to step up to the plate in the longer form of the game.
The agonising defeat off the penultimate ball in the Pro40 against Yorkshire last Wednesday was hard to take and it may be a loss too many for us to achieve promotion in the one-day competition.
But that setback has made us even more determined to go up in the Championship.
In the Pro40 we are currently second in the table, two points behind leaders Kent but have played two more matches than almost all of the other teams.
Had we won last week's nail-biter under the floodlights at Headingley we would have been back on track in that competition as well.
All we can do now is make sure we win our remaining three games, starting against Kent on August 26 at Lord's and see what happens - we all know cricket can be a funny game at times.
I was not involved against Yorkshire but it went right down to the final over when they got a lucky nick for four which proved decisive.
Instead, I turned out for the second team against the MCC Young Cricketers at Uxbridge last week as it was chance to have a look at some of our young bowlers.
I also got some overs under my belt and I feel I'm in good shape for our Championship match at Northants.
Meanwhile, off the field all the players are delighted that Owais Shah has been granted a benefit at Lord's next season.
"Ace" certainly deserves one and has been a great servant to Middlesex for as many years as I can remember - he is one of the old guys now.
However, we all know what a good player he is and hopefully he will make the most of his call up to England's squad for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa next month.
Owais has been unfortunate not to have enjoyed longer runs in the squad when he has been called up by England before and, given the opportunity, I have no doubts he can do it at Test level as well.
Chris Silverwood was
talking to Patrick Mooney