Morgan: Middlesex should aim to emulate Notts

Eoin Morgan has urged Middlesex to chase success across all formats – citing Nottinghamshire’s 2017 campaign as proof it can be done.

The East Midlands county gained promotion back to the top flight of the County Championship at the first attempt last season, as well as winning both one-day cup competitions.

Middlesex, relegated last season by just a single point, launch the battle to regain their place in Division One on Friday, when they take on Northamptonshire at Lord’s.

As well as winning promotion, managing director of cricket Angus Fraser has also set his team the target of a quarter-final place in the cups – and Morgan believes that should be achievable.

The Middlesex left-hander, who also captains England in limited-overs cricket, told West London Sport: “It is possible. That was an extraordinary effort from Notts last year.

“The thing about them is that they do have the squad, the depth, and we have that as well. There’s no excuse, no reason why we can’t strive to do something similar.

“Last year Dan Vettori came on board as coach and gave us really good direction and white-ball cricket has taken a forward step on the list of priorities, which is good to see.”

Partly due to his international commitments, Morgan has not featured in County Championship cricket since 2015 and will miss the start of the new season with a broken thumb.

The 31-year-old is keen to play his part in steering Middlesex towards a top-two finish, although he feels their bowling strength will be the most decisive factor in reaching that goal.

“It’s pretty obvious what we need to do – get the best out of the players we have,” Morgan added. “I think the bowling attack ultimately wins you a championship.

“Our bowlers really need to step up because in this format that’s where they’re most effective. The onus is on the batsmen to score 300-400 but, if your bowlers don’t bowl well, there’s no chance of winning the game.

“Looking at Division Two last year, there were a lot of result games and I can’t see there being too many draws at the start of the season, with the weather as it is.”

‘Positive step’

Middlesex’s promotion chances should be strengthened by the fact that, unusually, all their home four-day fixtures will be staged at Lord’s, with none at smaller venues.

That should prevent a repeat of the near washout in their clash with Hampshire at Uxbridge last September – an outcome that contributed towards Middlesex’s eventual fate.

“I think this is a positive step forward – although results would say otherwise, because when we’ve played at an outground we’ve usually managed to get a result in previous years,” said Morgan.

“But the consistency and familiarity of playing at Lord’s will breed confidence if we play well. We can get comfortable with our surroundings and just treat it as a home.”