RAYNER PLAYS THROUGH THE PAIN BAR­RIER

MID­DLE­SEX STAR ROB­SON CON­FI­DENT REL­E­GA­TION WILL BE AVOIDED

Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette - - Front Page - by JON BATHAM

SAM ROB­SON re­mains con­fi­dent Mid­dle­sex can bring their 2016 Cham­pi­onship-win­ning qual­i­ties to the rel­e­ga­tion scrap ahead over the next two weeks.

A weather-ru­ined draw with Hamp­shire at Uxbridge last week saw Rob­son and co slip into the bot­tom two and there­fore the rel­e­ga­tion places ahead of the match with Lan­cashire, which be­gan at Lord’s yes­ter­day (Tues­day).

It is all in stark con­trast to 12 months ago when many of the same play­ers were cel­e­brat­ing lift­ing Mid­dle­sex’s first County Cham­pi­onship crown in 23 years.

Nev­er­the­less, the Aussieborn right-han­der be­lieves those same qual­i­ties that clinched that ti­tle in so dra­matic a fash­ion can come to the fore amid a five-way bat­tle for safety and an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent kind of pres­sure this time around.

“It is go­ing to be a big cou­ple of weeks for us,” he said.

“We are near the bot­tom and we are scrap­ping, so we are go­ing to have to play well the next few weeks to pull ev­ery­thing out of them that we can.

“We have got a good squad with a lot of qual­ity play­ers. We won the Cham­pi­onship less than a year ago, so I’ve got no doubt we can string a cou­ple of good per­for­mances to­gether.”

Events at Uxbridge last week have made the ten­ants of Lord’s task all the tougher.

Heavy rain lead­ing up to the game got un­der the cov­ers, af­fect­ing the bowlers’ run-ups in par­tic­u­lar, and fur­ther bad weather over the four days meant only a lit­tle over 100 overs in to­tal were pos­si­ble.

The Test match at Lord’s the pre­vi­ous week forced the for­mer cham­pi­ons onto their lead­ing club ground, but in hind­sight skip­per James Franklin be­lieves this is a sit­u­a­tion to be avoided in fu­ture.

“Hav­ing to play out­ground cricket in Septem­ber wasn’t ideal,” he said.

“I don’t know many other coun­ties who would play out-ground cricket in Septem­ber. Most of it is played in June and July when weather is more likely to be set fair and drainage and ground staff at those out-grounds can sur­vive bet­ter.

“It is some­thing to re­flect on in the off sea­son.”

Sam Rob­son says Mid­dle­sex’s qual­ity should shine through

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