May 19 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Stand-in skipper Chris Rogers believes Middlesex are still in contention for the County Championship title following their draw against league leaders Warwickshire.
Middlesex remain fifth in Division One, 31 points behind Warwickshire after sharing the points in last week’s languid game at Uxbridge, but face them again later this month in the return match at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire also have two games to come against their nearest challengers Nottinghamshire, while Middlesex’s next assignment begins on Friday against third-placed Sussex at Hove.
“We’re still in the hunt and the two top teams have to play each other twice, so there’s hope for us yet,” Rogers told london24.com. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do other than look at challenging.
“I’m impressed with how we’ve played against the leaders. If we play as well as that again, there’s no reason why we can’t look upwards and get some real momentum going again.
“We’ve got a very big game now at Sussex, but we’ve been playing good stuff, we just need to put it together over all four days and I’m confident we will get a good result away from home.”
Rogers’ optimism was enhanced by an improved batting display from his troops as they totalled 402 after being put in by Warwickshire – having been dismissed cheaply twice in their previous four-day game at Durham.
Dawid Malan led the way with a sparkling century, while Joe Denly hit 95 and club captain Neil Dexter then notched his best score of the season – 84 not out – in the second innings after Middlesex had bowled their visitors out for 324.
Warwickshire declined to chase a target of 260 from 40 overs on a rain-affected final day, but Rogers observed: “We probably had the upper hand on the first three days, so that’s a good sign.
“I think as a batting group we were under a lot of pressure after the game against Durham – and then after losing the toss and being put in, there were a lot of answers there for us.
“Day one I was ecstatic at how well we batted – to toil and get a lead of 80 was exceptional and, if we’d taken our chances, we might have had a lead of up to 200.
“Malan’s been threatening to play a good innings for a while and that’s why we’ve stuck with him – we know he’s an exceptional player and he looks like he’s really starting to figure a few things out.
“Dexy needed a score as well – he’s been under pressure for a while and 84 will have done him wonders.”
Dexter, who handed the reigns over to Rogers in four-day cricket earlier in the season – and even lost his place in the side after struggling for form with the bat – filled the number three slot against Warwickshire.
But he is likely to revert to four or five for the trip to Hove as Eoin Morgan is away on England Lions duty, with Sam Robson regaining his place at the top of the order.
Robson, who had also endured a lean spell with the bat and was dropped after the Durham defeat, rediscovered his form by hitting a century for Middlesex’s second XI last week.