Managing Director of Cricket, Angus Fraser, provides us with his analysis of the LV=CC matches against Durham at Chester-le-Street & Warwickshire at Uxbridge, as well as the CB40 match against Worcestershire at Uxbridge...
LV=CC v Durham: 27-30 July - Match Lost
Disappointment, that was the sentiment felt by everybody after the 15 run defeat to Durham. I believe it was a game we should have won on three occasions, but sadly we let things slip and if you do not make the most of such opportunities you do not deserve to win sporting contests.
Having bowled Durham out for 102 in their first innings we should have scored more than 185. Then having reduced Durham to 119-7 we should not have let them get to 200. Despite all that we should have been capable of chasing down the 118 we required for victory. I suppose it is the unpredictability of sport that makes it such wonderful entertainment but when you are in the business of winning you want to take as much uncertainty out of the equation as possible.
The seamer friendly nature of the pitch ensured there would be a result and batting was never easy, especially when you consider the quality of fast bowler that was on display. Even so it was not a surface where only one batsman should have passed 50. The regular wicket taking meant it was almost a game that was played on fast forward.
LV=CC v Warwickshire: 1-4 August - Match Drawn
In light of the disappointing result at Chester-le-Street this was a strong and encouraging performance by Middlesex. Having failed to reach 200 in our three previous red ball batting displays it was important to post a confidence boosting total, which was achieved principally through the excellence of Dawid Malan and Joe Denly. There were once again useful runs from our lower order to get us past 400.
In the field we were very good too, bowling with discipline and skill. That Warwickshire never came close to scoring at three runs per over highlighted the quality of our attack, and on the third day the bowlers got what they deserved.
The game was nicely set up on the fourth morning, with Middlesex 182 ahead three down, but heavy rain removed any chance of there being an intriguing finish. Having controlled the game for three days we were reluctant to enter a situation where the odds favoured Warwickshire, which would have been the case in a short chase. In the end we wanted to have a little go at Warwickshire to let them know we were around and because, you never know, sometimes sides are bowled out in 40 overs. It was very pleasing to see Neil Dexter back in form and hopefully he and the rest of the team can finish the season off strongly.
CB40 v Worcestershire: 5 August - Match Tied
One poor over ruined what would have been another impressive performance. Worcestershire needed 24 off the final over to win the game and Ben Scott smashed Steven Crook for 23 to tie the match. Even on the final ball we could have won as they scrambled a single. Neil Dexter dropped a low but relatively straightforward catch at mid-wicket and then failed to hit the stumps for a run out that he would normally hit. We rarely make things easy for ourselves. Whilst we feel sorry for ourselves you have to congratulate Scott. I have never seen him hit the ball like that and it was an outstanding effort by him.
Despite Scott's heroics the day was dominated by a magnificent 80 ball innings of 120 from Eoin Morgan. The performance highlighted what an exceptional talent he is. Josh Davey batted very well too scoring an unbeaten half century. To get 229 in 36 overs from a position of 60-4 was an excellent effort.
Worcestershire put us under pressure but when Philip Hughes and Gareth Andrew were dismissed most thought the game was ours, and it should have been. The defeat doesn’t end our chances of qualifying for the CB40 semis but it makes it extremely unlikely. Lancashire have to lose three of their four remaining games – they would have had to had we beat Worcs – and Gloucestershire lose one of two.
Although a couple of results have not gone our way in the past week - Durham LV=CC and Worcs CB40 - we must take confidence from the fact that we have not been outclassed by any side we have played this season. We have a good squad of players and if we can become more consistent, ruthless and thorough in games we will become even stronger contenders for trophies than we are.