By Callum Dent
Dawid Malan has called on Middlesex to improve their performances on the road in the LV= County Championship, starting with Northamptonshire from tomorrow.
Chris Rogers’ side have treated the Lord’s faithful to some impressive displays so far this term, winning three consecutive four-day matches at the home of cricket for the first time since 1999.
However, they sit no higher than third in the Division One table due to their away form, which has seen them defeated heavily by both Sussex and Warwickshire.
Malan admits that needs to improve at Wantage Road, where they face a Northants side propping up the table following three losses in four matches since promotion to the top flight last season.
Left-handed batsman Malan, who struck 92 in his side’s victory over Lancashire in their last outing, told ecb.co.uk: “The way we have travelled so far has not been ideal.
“It’s more onus on us to perform away from home and back up the performances we have had at our home ground, Lord’s.
“If we can go away and do what we did against Lancashire and try and be a bit more ruthless away, there is no way why we cannot come away with a win there.”
Middlesex started their NatWest T20 Blast campaign with a double-header against Essex Eagles and Sussex Sharks at Lord’s yesterday, losing both games, before travelling up to Northamptonshire.
The short turnaround could see Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser shuffle his pack, a move which Malan insists is inevitable.
The 26-year-old added: “One Twenty20 seems to take a whole lot out of you so two is going to be very interesting, especially when we have got to travel to Northants and play a four-day game from the next day.
“That will be very interesting from our point of view. I think that also might affect our team selection to some extent because bowlers will have to be rested.”
Steven Finn missed out on Twenty20 action, meaning he is likely to lead the attack with Tim Murtagh on Sunday, while skipper Rogers, Sam Robson and Neil Dexter are set to return.
However, Eoin Morgan, fresh from hitting a century versus the Red Rose, will miss out as he continues his preparations to skipper England in Tuesday evening’s NatWest International T20 with Sri Lanka at the Kia Oval.
In Division Two, Hampshire will be looking to preserve their position at the summit when they travel to Grace Road to face fellow unbeaten side Leicestershire.
The leaders have suffered a double blow following the leg injury sustained by Liam Dawson on Blast duty and Michael Carberry’s England call-up, with Tom Alsop and fit-again Adam Wheater included in the squad.
Worcestershire, not in action last week, will be looking to move back to the top when they host Essex at New Road.
Graham Napier and Reece Topley both featured in their side’s eight-wicket Blast win over Middlesex at Lord’s after regaining full fitness.
Will Gidman bolsters Gloucestershire ahead of their clash with Kent at Bristol after recovering from a knee injury which sidelined him for the defeat to Surrey.
However, David Payne and Craig Miles are out with heel and back complaints respectively and Ian Saxelby is awaiting results of a scan on his knee after the seamer broke down two just balls into his first spell at the Kia Oval.
Kent have added Charlie Hartley to their squad that drew with Derbyshire at the 3aaa County Ground.
LV= County Championship facts
- Northamptonshire are unbeaten in their last six championship matches against Middlesex (won four, drawn two).
- Sam Robson has hit 445 runs at an average of 53.2 this season – during April and May last season he averaged 81.5.
- The last 15 championship matches between Leicestershire and Hampshire at Grace Road have produced 11 draws and two wins apiece.
- At Cheltenham last season Kent recorded their fourth-highest successful fourth-innings run-chase (411/8). They went on to record their third-highest later in the season, against Lancashire.
- Essex’s win at Chelmsford last season ended a run of eight championship games against Worcestershire without a win (lost five, drawn three).
- Hampshire are unbeaten in their last nine championship games. They last went 10 matches in a row without defeat in 2008-2009.
- Reece Topley recorded the best 2013 championship figures by an Essex bowler in his team’s win against Worcestershire at Chelmsford – he took 11-85 from 37.2 overs.
- James Vince has scored 1,064 runs in his last 15 championship innings, at an average of 106.4.