Middlesex must develop a ruthless streak when their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign gets under way this week, according to assistant coach Nic Pothas.
Pothas was a member of the Hampshire side that reached three 50-over finals between 2005 and 2009 – winning two of them – and feels the Seaxes possess the players to make an impact on the five-week long tournament.
The batting line-up includes internationals such as Dawid Malan, Paul Stirling and England one-day international captain Eoin Morgan, with New Zealand star Ross Taylor due to join the squad next week, and Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones expected to spearhead the pace attack.
“The changing room has a lot of ability and skill in it,” Pothas said. “The one element we probably need to find is a harder edge, to sharpen our teeth a little bit as a group.
“Once we do that, I think you’ll start seeing results. The format is now pretty congested, with eight games in about 20 days so, if you get a couple of wins under your belt early on, you can become difficult to stop.
“Once you start winning, the key is not to get carried away with it and keep doing the basics. You don’t want to mess with Mother Cricket.
“If you get a bit ahead of yourself, she’ll tap you on the shoulder and before you know it, you get into a different type of momentum you don’t want.”
Pothas and head coach Stuart Law are tasked with advancing Middlesex’s modest fortunes in a format where they have never qualified for the knockout stage.
Both have identified fielding as an area for improvement, with particular emphasis on throwing skills, deploying Middlesex’s most nimble players in their best positions – and having a good time.
“The underlying thing with fielding is it’s got to be fun,” said Pothas. “It’s the one time a cricket team walks out onto the field as a team and they need to enjoy themselves.
“Fielding is a massive part of success in white-ball cricket and certainly there will be attention to detail. If you can’t move, you can’t field.
“We’ve got an idea of who are our best movers and we’re getting people into positions where I perceive them to be best suited.
“One thing we have worked a lot on with certain players is throwing technique, how accurately you can get the ball in and how fast.”
Middlesex begin their South Group schedule at Essex on Friday and, to some extent, the coaching staff will have to fine-tune their limited-overs strategy as they go along.
“The observation period is nowhere near over – we haven’t watched them play any white-ball cricket yet,” Pothas said. “There’s still an element of watching how they go about things. Only then can we start making adjustments.
“County cricket’s very different from international cricket in that you have a squad and you have to make the best of it across three formats, which can mean thinking outside the box.”