Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JON BATHAM by tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @el­lis_red

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.

Nigel French/PA Wire

Call-ups for play­ers like Eng­land sen­sa­tion Toby Roland-Jones may have af­fected Mid­dle­sex’s form

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