Middlesex star wants to taste County Championship success again after 23-year wait ends
PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 September 2016
John Simpson wants Middlesex’s County Championship title triumph to be the first of many after they wrenched the crown from Yorkshire in thrilling fashion.
The Middlesex wicketkeeper was a key member of the side that went through the season unbeaten in four-day cricket, culminating in their dramatic 61-run win over Yorkshire at Lord’s.
The White Rose county were denied a third consecutive title – having secured their second in the same fixture a year earlier, which consigned Middlesex to the runners-up spot.
Now the Lord’s side have turned the tables on their rivals – and Simpson is aiming to make sure that Middlesex’s first championship for 23 years ushers in a similar era of success.
“It was good to finish second – we’d had a great season,” said Simpson. “But to watch Yorkshire win the championship at Lord’s was tough to take and you use those moments to spur you on.
“It was amazing to come back for the last game of the season, Middlesex against Yorkshire again – you couldn’t have written the script any better, could you?
“Yorkshire are a fantastic team and this incredible game was testament to that. It was a tough four days and to be a County Championship winner at Lord’s, your home ground, is an unbelievable feeling for everyone at the club and everyone associated with the club.
“Not many people get to do that. But we won’t be resting on our laurels – this is one special occasion and hopefully we’ve got a few more to come.
“We know everyone’s going to come after us now and and we need to keep working hard and keep improving. This squad’s capable of doing that – you’ve seen over the four days how good we are.”
Simpson, who joined Middlesex eight years ago after playing second XI cricket for his native Lancashire, has witnessed at first hand the club’s evolution from second-tier strugglers to Division One champions.
Although the Lord’s side finished second from bottom in Division Two during both of his first two seasons at the club, they have gradually risen to the peak of the domestic game.
Middlesex’s championship success this season was the 13th in their history, including two joint titles – and only Yorkshire and Surrey have finished top on more occasions since the competition officially began in 1890.
“When I first joined Middlesex times were tough,” said the 28-year-old. “The squad has changed, the management staff have all changed and the transformation to where we are now has been surreal.
“There’s been a lot of hard work on the field and a lot more hard work going on behind the scenes, so to be where we are today is full credit to everybody.
“The character in this group is amazing and we’ve fought every day – none of the 16 Championship games have been easy and to go a season unbeaten is an incredible achievement.
“We’ve stood up when we needed to be counted and this game was no exception. We’re all in this together and hopefully we can achieve something special next year as well.”