Fully focused on our big finish ... but twenty20 day still rankles

England's Craig Kieswetter during a nets session at Chester Le Street, Durham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 2, 2011. See PA Story: CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTIRCTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
England's Craig Kieswetter during a nets session at Chester Le Street, Durham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 2, 2011. See PA Story: CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTIRCTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
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WE are under way in our crucial game with Hampshire and determined to make up for the last couple of weeks.

No excuses for our performance last time out at Worcester. It wasn’t a hangover from the disappointment of twenty20 finals day – it was simply a case of us not playing well enough.

We didn’t bat or bowl as well as we can have and the pitch certainly wasn’t the best. A combination of those three factors was why we lost.

But there is no panic. Yes, we were all really down immediately after the game but there was a bit of relief a couple of days later when Yorkshire got a draw with Warwickshire.

If Warwickshire had won, they would have opened up a bit of a gap. As it is, they are only three points ahead.

Durham are a further seven points in front of us but have only got one game to play, whereas Warwickshire and ourselves have two, so it is all to pay for.

The Hampshire game is on a Liverpool wicket we like, while Warwickshire have a tough game against Notts. It is certainly going to be exciting, if nothing else.

We feel that if we continue to do what we’ve done all season – stay patient and play good cricket – we can get two wins and that could win us the title.

And besides, why should we be worrying?

No-one expected us to be in this position. We were written off at the start of the campaign as being too young and too inexperienced, not good enough to compete. Many people predicted we’d be in relegation scrap.

So if at the start of the season you’d offered us this position – third in the table with two games left and with a real chance of winning our first outright title since the 1930s – we’d most definitely have taken it.

I must admit that even a fortnight down the line, I’m still gutted about what happened in the twenty20. I feel that we were the strongest side in the competition and that we should be going to India. But we won’t be and that is hard to take.

Somerset and Leicestershire get that honour. They will compete in the Champions League.

But you look at Somerset, and presumably Marcus Trescothick won’t be going to India because of his illness, and Craig Kieswetter and Jos Butler might be playing for England, as well as Kieron Pollard.

I just think we would be able to send a stronger side and it is so disappointing for everyone at the club that we won’t get the chance to go.

I still feel hard done to about the semi-final we lost to Leicestershire.

I felt we were cruising it, one wicket down, before the rain started and the Duckworth-Lewis method came into play.

It was all so rushed. They had to fit the match into an allotted time but there was a mascot race in the afternoon and a lot of waiting around.

They’ve got floodlights at the ground, so I think that for the sake of finishing the game properly they could have extended the whole day.

Having to do it the way we did put us at a disadvantage and I think things worked out better for Leicestershire.

But never mind, it is gone. The aim of everyone in the dressing room now is to try to win these last two matches and bring the County Championship title to Old Trafford.

Interview: STEVE CANAVAN