By Jack Miller
NO-ONE is at panic stations just yet at Middlesex, insists in-form batsman Dawid Malan, despite the reigning county champions remaining winless with the four-day season approaching the midway point.
Granted Monday’s defeat to Lancashire after a disappointing showing with the bat was the first of the season for James Franklin’s side, but with four draws preceding it, Middlesex are languishing in sixth in Division One with only Somerset and Warwickshire below them.
It feels a long time since Middlesex’s dramatic final-day County Championship triumph at the climax of last season, but Malan, averaging almost 49 in red-ball cricket this term, is adamant their level has not dropped.
And the England new-boy – hoping to make his international bow in the upcoming T20 series against South Africa – believes that despite the formulation of the fixture blocks to prevent sides constantly switching formats, Middlesex have endured a disjointed start to their campaign.
“It’s not worked out that way at all for us. Cricket and winning are all about momentum,” he said.
“We’ve been very stop-start in our four-day cricket this season; we missed the first round, and then we played two weather-affected games.
“Really we’ve not been able to string two matches together with the one-day tournament coming in as well.
“So it’s hard to get the momentum. Next week we’re missing three or four players again to the Lions, so it is tough to keep everybody in the team and clicking.
“But we do feel like we’re playing good cricket, I don’t think we’re struggling. A few things went against us against Lancashire, but I don’t think we’re that far off where we were last season – aside from losing a match.
“Retaining the title is not beyond us at all – we’re literally just two wins away from being at the top of the table.”
Malan, 29, has been imperious in an England Lions jersey scoring over 1,100 runs in 18 innings, and received his first call-up to the T20 side last July – but was not selected in the matchday squad to face Sri Lanka at the Ageas Bowl.
But after plundering 125 not out and 84 against South Africa A at the start of the month, the bludgeoning left-hander is confident he has earned his chance, and does not believe he is too late to the party to forge himself an England role across all formats.
He said: “I was over the moon [to get called up again]. I’ve had the runs where I’ve been under pressure to deliver for the Lions and that played a massive part in getting selected for this squad.
“It has been a frustrating two years in a way, scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket and other tournaments, and you hope those performances will get recognised eventually.
“But getting an England cap is not about getting a monkey off my back in any shape or form. I want to play all three formats for England, not just play one game and disappear.
“When you’re 28 or 29 you probably know your game better and you’re in your best years of batting. So if I get that opportunity I have to take it.”