Sep 7 2012 By Jon Batham
JOHN SIMPSON is hopeful two weeks of good kip will have put an end to the form slump which has haunted much of his 2012 season.
The Seaxes’ wicketkeeper returned to first-team duties this week after being ‘rested’ for almost the first time in three seasons recently after his form deserted him.
Simpson had become a fixture in the Middlesex top six in all forms of the game since seeing off the challenge of Ben Scott for the place behind the timbers at Lord’s at the end of the 2009 season, blossoming in the club’s promotion campaign last year when a century and six 50s saw him average almost 43.
However, it seems the continuous day-in, day-out cricket took its toll on the slight Lancastrian-born glove-man.
Fatigue weakened by a blood virus, which initially went undetected has led to a season where he has failed to pass 50 in a first-class game and increasingly struggled to buy a run.
Yet a break spent mainly talking to his pillow seems to have done the trick as a century in the second XI last week led to a recall for the season finale against the red rose county of his birth.
“I think it would be fair to say I was pretty tired,” he said “I had been working hard on my game to try and get it bang on every game that I did play, so there was some fatigue there.
“I have been a bit crook as well – a bit run down. I had Norovirus at the start of the season and I think things are a little bit linked as I’ve since had a viral blood infection which I’d had for a good month before it was diagnosed, so it hit my immune system pretty hard.
“So that was the point of my downtime to get some sleep and get my energy levels back to where they should be.
“It was good to completely switch off and get away from the game and I’m feeling much happier now.”
The 24-year-old left-hander claimed having some responsibility during his comeback in the seconds had been a big help in his recovery.
“I was a senior player going back into the second team with some really good young cricketers coming through, so there was a sense of personal pride in wanting to go and show the young boys what they have got to do in order to move up,” he said.
The return to first team duties is also going quite well, with an increasingly confident 29 with the bat, before being strangled out down the leg-side, plus four victims behind the stumps in Lancashire’s 448 all out yesterday.
Trailing by two on first innings Middlesex reached 129-2 in their second innings thanks to an unbeaten 57 from skipper Chris Rogers.
Simpson felt his old county could and should have been bolder and declared behind, bearing in mind their rivals in the battle to avoid the drop Surrey are in a strong position to beat Notts going into the final day at the Oval.
He says Lancashire’s failure to progress the game more quickly could back-fire on them today.
He added: “We thought once they got to 350 they would have a bowl and there would be talk of us setting a target, especially as Surrey have got the upper hand on Notts at the Oval where I imagine the ball will be turning on day four.
“Instead they tried to go passed us where if they had pulled out a little bit earlier it could have made things a little bit more interesting.
“At the end of the day we don’t owe them anything so now we are looking to build a big lead and try to put them under pressure.
“Potentially Surrey are going to beat Notts and that puts more pressure on Lancashire to chase whatever we set them.”