Rogers believes Middlesex bowling attack key to promotion hopes

Middlesex’s bowling attack will determine whether the county go on to achieve promotion success this season, according to the team’s leading run-scorer.

Overseas star Chris Rogers has been a mainstay of Middlesex’s County Championship side to date, racking up 627 runs to help them to second place in Division Two.

Yet the Australian opener feels it is the bowlers who will play a decisive role in determining Middlesex’s fate as they embark on the second half of their Championship campaign.

“We have to maintain what we’ve been doing,” said Rogers. “If we can keep bowling sides out, I think that’s the huge key and we’ll be right in there come September.

“Our side has a lot of strengths that maybe other sides don’t possess. I think our bowling is very good on its day, but maybe we need a few of the batters to step up and I’ll be doing everything I can to help.

“I’m quietly confident of getting Middlesex back into the First Division where they deserve to be, to be honest.

“Overall, we’ve played pretty consistent cricket and been competitive and that’s what you need to do in every game.

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“I think if you’d said at the start of the year ‘this is where we’ll be at the halfway point’, everyone would have bitten your hand off.”

Middlesex, who begin their latest four-day fixture against Surrey at Guildford on Wednesday, rattled off three straight victories at the start of the campaign.

Since then, they have recorded three draws in a five-match sequence that also included a low-scoring win against Kent and a nine-wicket defeat by Glamorgan.

The Welsh county lie seventh in the table – but, despite having played two more matches than Middlesex, are only eight points off the second promotion place.

And Rogers refuses to rule them out of the promotion picture, recalling: “That was a tough loss and we probably played our worst day of cricket in the County Championship this year.

“I think Glamorgan, with the nature of their side, will win a few games and be competitive. If Essex can get a roll on, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do well – and Surrey, on their day, can be excellent.”

While Northamptonshire are now setting the pace at the top of the table – they lead Middlesex by 32 points and have played a game more, there are several counties jostling for position behind them.

Middlesex all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple, who captained the Glamorgan side that came close to snatching promotion last season, agrees that several teams are likely to be involved in the shake-up again this time.

“The nature of Division Two over the last few years has been that people start beating each other and all of a sudden teams you didn’t think were anywhere end up in the frame,” said Dalrymple.

“For Middlesex, it’s important that we keep our focus. That’s difficult, because you can’t help but notice what the points scores are – the crucial thing is that you go out and do your business.”