Middlesex failed in a bid to return to Division One for the second season running. The 2016 County Champions fell well short of promotion even with an extra place up for grabs.
It is staggering to witness the continued failings of a side that contains so much talent. While numerous members of the 2016 title-winning side remain, their form does not.
Steve Eskinazi, Nick Gubbins, and Max Holden all suffered terribly against the red ball. The trio could only muster 1,151 Championship runs between them – Gubbins with the highest average of 22.08.
The lower order constantly had to mop up the mess the top order created. The quartet of James Harris, Steven Finn, Tom Helm, and Toby Roland-Jones scored a combined 1,104 runs.
It is a telling statistic that, during eight innings, Middlesex’s lower order put on over a hundred for the last three wickets.
Indeed, only Dawid Malan and Sam Robson finished the season with respectable numbers. The former has since resigned the captaincy and the latter is expected to take over. Clearly, all is not well at the club and Malan’s resignation is not the only casualty following a poor season.
Tom Barber and Ollie Rayner have been released, and Malan’s future at the club is uncertain. Paul Stirling has left in order to commit his future to Ireland.
Stuart Law’s first year as head coach did see a marked improvement in white-ball cricket, however. Solid showings in the group stages saw Middlesex breeze comfortably through to quarterfinals in both competitions.
A rampant Saqib Mahmood saw Lancashire perform a smash-and-grab at Lords in the One-Day Cup, and a disastrous display at Trent Bridge meant the Saxons were soundly beaten by ten wickets in the Blast. Middlesex had nothing to show for two strong white-ball campaigns.
SSCC: Division Two – 8th
T20 Blast: QF
SSCC – Malan – 1,005 average 47.85
RL50 – Gubbins – 417 average 59.57
T20 Blast – Malan – 490 average 40.83
SSCC – Murtagh – 43
RL50 – Sowter – 25
T20 – Roland-Jones/Finn – 19
Player of the Season:
Dawid Malan performed admirably across all forms for his County. The 32-year-old scored over 1,500 runs across all forms, including a memorable 117 in the t20 London Derby. It was his first century in the Blast since 2015, and third overall. His departure would be a huge blow for Middlesex.
Nathan Sowter made his first appearance for Middlesex back in 2015, but this season saw the 26-year-old emerge as a real force in white-ball cricket. He took 41 wickets across both formats and his 25 scalps in the One-Day Cup were bettered only by Saqib Mahmood.
Could have done better:
Nick Gubbins scored 1,409 Championship runs during the 2016 title-winning season; a haul that had the opener seriously considered for international honors. However, a combined 1,429 runs in the three subsequent campaigns has been a dramatic decline for the 25-year-old.
Haseeb Hameed was released from Lancashire this season following a continued poor run of form and one more poor season could find Gubbins in a similar situation.
Need to work on:
Top-order consistency. The lower order has proved they are more than capable with bat and ball; it is time for the top order to stand up and be counted.
It could be a new-look side next year following numerous departures and a new captain in charge. Miguel Cummins has signed a three-year Kolpak deal and more signings could follow.
Season Rating – 4/10