Middlesex’s 2012 Friends Life t20 campaign was ultimately a disappointing one. The aim was to qualify for the quarter-finals and that goal was not achieved.
Yet, I believe we played better T20 cricket this year than last. Not just because we won a game more but because there was not a match where we were hammered or never in with a chance.
The commonest phrase around the dressing-room during the Group matches was ‘another 15 runs’. This is a true reflection of how far away we were from winning another three or four matches, results that would have seen us qualify for the quarter-finals.
In one match in particular we showed what sort of cricket we are capable of playing. The performance against Kent at Canterbury was outstanding. When I bumped into a couple of Sky commentators – who don’t hand compliments out easily – said it was the best display they had to date seen in the competition. It was no coincidence that that performance was produced when we had all our front-line – England – players available.
Sadly, though, teams need to produce performances like this more often if they are to win tournaments. In too many games we made a few small errors that probably cost around five runs each, and in T20 that is the difference between winning and losing. In the end we were not quite consistent or good enough.
In our planning we had obviously wanted to use our second overseas player to strengthen our bowling. However, I do not believe we missed Lasith Malinga hugely as the other bowlers – Toby Roland-Jones, Steven Crook and Gareth Berg did an excellent job. All will have benefitted from bowling the overs that Malinga would have bowled had he come.
If we had issues it was with the batting. No side really got away from us and to win the Friends Life t20 competition you need to be able to regularly chase down totals of 150-160. This we failed to do. A senior player with a bit of T20 nouse may well have got us over the line on a couple of occasions.
There were good things to come out of the tournament. During it we were able to give Roland-Jones and Adam Rossington quite a bit of exposure. Paul Stirling highlighted what an exciting and dangerous player he is too. It was also good to see Ollie Wilkin go well in his first three first team games for the county. During the group stages we had a detailed gameplan and quite a few aspects of it were successful. Other areas, obviously, need working on.
On our list of priorities as a team, T20 is number two behind the County Championship so our performances will be analysed closely during the winter months, plans will be put in place to improve and we will hit 2013 hoping and believing we can do better in 2013.