SKIP­PER FRANKLIN DE­FENDS DERBY STRAT­EGY

CHAMPS’ SKIP­PER DE­FENDS DERBY STRAT­EGY

Harefield Gazette - - Front Page - By JON BATHAM tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @el­lis_red

JAMES FRANKLIN de­nied any lack of pos­i­tive in­tent af­ter Mid­dle­sex’s Lon­don derby with Sur­rey pe­tered out into a draw at Lord’s on Mon­day.

Eye­brows were raised when, hav­ing dis­missed dan­ger­man Ku­mar San­gakkara early on the fi­nal morn­ing of the Spec­savers County Cham­pi­onship first di­vi­sion clash, af­ter his sec­ond cen­tury of the match. But the Seaxes’ skip­per de­clined use of the new ball for 14 overs, pin­ning his hopes on spin at one end through Ol­lie Rayner and re­verse-swing cour­tesy of Steven Finn at the other.

The gam­ble failed as Ben Foakes and Sam Cur­ran added 83 for the sixth wicket be­fore the lat­ter fell to the last ball be­fore lunch – and by the time Mid­dle­sex mopped up the tail it was al­most tea.

The draw means the reign­ing cham­pi­ons are still with­out a win so far in their ti­tle de­fence.

Nev­er­the­less, the former New Zealand in­ter­na­tional seemed com­fort­able with his judge­ment call.

“Adam Vo­ges and I dis­cussed the mer­its of tak­ing the new ball and both con­cluded at the time the ball was still re­vers­ing,” he said

“We felt Ol­lie was do­ing a good job, plus Finny was a threat with the re­vers­ing ball and at the same time the score­board wasn’t re­ally go­ing any­where for Sur­rey, who were stag­nat­ing a bit, so we felt if we could draw that out a lit­tle bit for another eight or 10 overs it would give Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Helm a pe­riod be­fore lunch of maybe 45 min­utes to re­ally at­tack. So that is why we pro­gressed longer with the re­vers­ing ball longer than peo­ple thought we would.”

De­spite Sur­rey’s stoic re­sis­tance, Mid­dle­sex were left 242 in 39 overs to claim a vic­tory which would have car­ried them to third in the early sea­son ta­ble.

Their ap­proach though was un­am­bi­tious, Nick Comp­ton be­ing sent out to open with Nick Gub­bins as the chase was never re­ally en­ter­tained.

Such cau­tion sur­prised some given the ten­ants of Lord’s will­ing­ness to suc­cess­fully pur­sue 300plus at a sim­i­lar re­quired rate at Taun­ton amid their surge to ti­tle glory last year.

Ac­cord­ing to Franklin, the two sce­nar­ios were very dif­fer­ent and don’t bear com­par­i­son.

“It was dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances to Som­er­set last year,” he added. “Fourth-day wick­ets here don’t com­pare to a fourth-day wicket at Taun­ton.

“When there is a lot of grass on the wicket at Taun­ton it is pretty flat and pretty good to bat day four, whereas here it is a lit­tle bit slow and can be tricky at times to score.

“We gave it a bit of dis­cus­sion, but it was a bit of a tricky sit­u­a­tion. We were about a minute off from it be­ing tea and not los­ing any overs, but to go out there and bat for six overs was a bit of a tricky pe­riod.

“We thought if we got a good start through the first 20 overs we might look at it but we never re­ally got any sort of mo­men­tum.”

Mid­dle­sex now have a week off to har­ness their en­ergy be­fore en­ter­tain­ing Som­er­set at Lord’s from Fri­day June 2.

Philip Brown/Getty Images

Worth cel­e­brat­ing? Steven Finn and James Franklin (right)

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