MID­DLE­SEX PRE­PARE FOR DOU­BLE AM­BI­TION

CONSISTENCY THE WATCH­WORD SAYS WICK­ET­KEEPER

Uxbridge Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by JON BATHAM tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @el­lis_red

MID­DLE­SEX must ex­cel in two ‘Cs’ if they are to re­peat their County Cham­pi­onship suc­cess of last year, ac­cord­ing to John Simp­son.

The ten­ants of Lord’s be­gin the quest for their first back-to-back ti­tle wins for 40 years when they travel to The Ageas Bowl to face Hamp­shire on Fri­day.

It’s far from im­pos­si­ble as Sus­sex, Durham and York­shire have all achieved the feat this cen­tury.

Wick­et­keeper Simp­son says the recipe for suc­cess in­volves repli­cat- ing the two things which have char­ac­terised their cricket in re­cent sea­sons – char­ac­ter and consistency.

Not many years ago, char­ac­ter was con­sid­ered the miss­ing link in a Mid­dle­sex side la­belled tal­ented but flaky by those who watched them reg­u­larly.

But just two de­feats in as many sea­sons and none at all in their ti­tle tri­umph last sum­mer means it’s a la­bel which doesn’t stick any more.

“The char­ac­ter we have shown and the games we have won in the last few years bodes well,” said Simp­son. “The men­tal side is ob­vi­ously some­thing we have re­ally tried to tar­get and work hard on. Some­thing we pride our­selves on is if we can’t win, don’t get beat.”

Dis­pens­ing with their soft un­der­belly duly brought the wins which led to the epic scenes at Lord’s in Septem­ber as An­gus Fraser’s side beat reign­ing cham­pi­ons York­shire plus Som­er­set to the crown on an re­mark­able fi­nal day of the cam­paign. The old adage goes that it is one thing to win a ti­tle, quite an­other to keep it, but Simp­son sees no need for a change in think­ing or ap­proach, and says consistency will win out.

He con­cedes, how­ever, that with Divi­sion One cut to eight clubs, who­ever hits the ground run­ning will have the drop on the rest. “I don’t think it is a dif­fer­ent men­tal challenge try­ing to keep a ti­tle to try­ing to win one, not from my per­spec­tive any­way,” he added.

“It is still a case of try­ing to be con­sis­tent and if you look at the last three or four sea­sons, who­ever is the most con­sis­tent side wins it.

“That’s some­thing we are go­ing to have to be even bet­ter at this year es­pe­cially with eight teams in the first divi­sion be­cause the scrab­bling in the mid­dle pack is go­ing to be­come very con­gested come June or July. We have got to start fast and get a cou­ple of wins be­fore the 50-over com­pe­ti­tion starts.”

Dan Mul­lan/Getty Images

Mid­dle­sex’s Toby Roland-Jones, right, is mobbed by his team­mates af­ter tak­ing the wicket of York­shire’s Ryan Side­bot­tom to win the County Cham­pi­onship at Lords in Septem­ber

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