Gubbins targets white-ball success for Middlesex

Nick Gubbins says Middlesex will give the Royal London Cup equal billing with four-day cricket when they launch their limited-overs campaign against Sussex on Thursday.

The Seaxes missed out on last year’s quarter-finals after a rain-reduced defeat to Surrey – and have yet to make the knockout stages of the 50-over competition since it began in 2014.

By contrast, Middlesex have been consistent performers in the County Championship, winning the title last season, while also reaching the last eight of the NatWest T20 Blast.

Gubbins told West London Sport: “If you look around our squad, it’s one that can compete in every single format and we’re not looking at one in any higher regard than another.

“We’re going to fight just as hard in the Royal London tournament as we did for the Championship.

“It’s important to get off to a good start and that’s why Sussex will be a big game for us.

“We felt we were a touch unlucky last year with the way we went out to Surrey in that rain-affected game at Lord’s – that was pretty much on the toss of a coin. Now we’re really excited to get going again.”

For the first time, Middlesex’s entire Royal London Cup group schedule is condensed into a three-week period rather than two separate blocks of matches during the season.

And Gubbins believes that intensity will produce a more exciting tournament, with players no longer required to switch repeatedly between different formats of the game.

“It’s a lot easier for players,” he added. “You don’t have to think about whether you’re practising red-ball or white-ball and my focus for the next month is literally about hitting a white ball.”

“The fact that the competition’s in one block means that the standard will be higher. Teams can get on a roll and really gain some rhythm and we’re all looking forward to it.”