‘KILLER INSTINCT HAS LEFT SEAXES’
MIDDLESEX must rediscover their ruthless streak if they are to stand any chance of defending their County Championship title.
That’s the view of director of cricket Angus Fraser as the tenants of Lord’s will switch focus from T20 to red-ball cricket with the visit of basement boys Warwickshire to Lord’s on Sunday.
Fraser said he was ‘frustrated’ and ‘disappointed’ at the first eight games of a campaign which has left his men 44 points adrift of last year’s Division Two Champions Essex.
Fraser says his side have lost the killer instinct of their charge to the title, a triumph characterised by a merciless streak.
“Expectations from every- one were high at the start of the season and that wasn’t unrealistic,” said Fraser.
“We have had opportunities in most games, but not always played well enough for long enough to make the most of them. It has felt like quite hard work. We need to win games and make sure when we get a chance, we drive it home.”
While there has been the odd batting collapse, according to Fraser, the onus for turning losses and draws into wins lies with his bowlers, who too often have let the opposition off the hook.
“We should have got more runs in the first innings against Lancashire and Essex, but in general we’ve not batted badly,” he said. “We haven’t though, bowled well as a group or put batting sides under pressure on wickets with a bit more in them.
“We had Warwickshire at 140-5 in the last game but they got 330-odd. We need to bowl a side out for less than that from that position.
“That happened at Southport against Lancashire and Somerset at Lord’s. Seeing sides off is something we have done well in recent years. Maybe we are trying to get there too quickly.”
Fraser also suggested international call-ups might have affected focus.
“We’ve had England callups too for people like Toby [Roland-Jones], [Dawid] Malan, [Nick] Gubbins and [Sam] Robson, so there are people with maybe an eye somewhere else and perhaps that’s meant the focus has not been as tightly on Middlesex,” he added.
Before the red-ball action Middlesex entertain Hampshire in their latest T20 clash tomorrow evening.
Call-ups for players like England sensation Toby Roland-Jones may have affected Middlesex’s form