Apr 25 2012 By Jon Batham
MIDDLESEX’S batsmen will have to man up and tough it out on the early season wickets according to a member of their own coaching staff.
Bowling mentor Richard Johnson admitted he had no sympathy for the Seaxes’ top six, Andrew Strauss included, after they struggled once more on the latest seaming pitch at the home of cricket in the draw with Durham which ended on Sunday.
Only rain and a ninth wicket stand of 82 between John Simpson and Tim Murtagh rescued the Lord’s tenants from a second defeat from their first three games of the season and such has been the batsmen’s plight that Murtagh currently leads their first class averages.
However, Johnson maintained the conditions are just a throw back to his early years in the game and that the bowlers should be left to make hay while the sun does not shine because the time would soon come when the batsmen would have the upper hand.
He said: "The batsmen will have their time when the wickets flatten out don’t worry about that - so basically it is a case of hard cheese and get on with it - bowlers have too when conditions favour batsmen.
"It has only been in recent times the wickets have been good from day one, so we seem to have gone back a bit to the old traditional sort of wickets.
"When I first started playing certainly you would expect to get 25 wickets quite early on because the pitches would do a bit.
"Then they would flatten out in the middle of the season where it was harder for you to get wickets and then at the end of the year you would get a few up and down wickets so you could pick up a few more then."
"This time of year as a batsman you have to find a way to chip in and keep your scoreboard moving so when things flatten out you have got a little bit of form behind you and you can cash in.
Middlesex were only 41 ahead when Murtagh joined Simpson in what looked a hopeless cause early on the final afternoon, but his aggression and Simpson’s controlled defiance gave the hosts hope before the rain fell.
Durham’s chase for 130 in 20 overs came up short at 82-6 and Johnson feels his batsmen need to take a leaf from Murtagh’s positive approach.
He added: "The bowlers have been dominating and it means from a batting perspective you can’t just go in and look to survive the whole time because there is probably going to be a ball with your name on it, so you have to mix survival with run scoring."