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Middlesex's Simpson believes arrival of Pothas as coach will take game to next level

PUBLISHED: 16:00 02 April 2019

Middlesex's John Simpson (pic: John Walton/PA)

Middlesex's John Simpson (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

John Simpson believes the appointment of Nic Pothas to Middlesex's coaching staff can help him regain his best form after the 'harsh lesson' of being dropped last season.

Simpson has been the Seaxes’ first-choice wicketkeeper since 2010, but was left out for the last six games of their County Championship campaign after averaging just 22 with the bat.

However, the 30-year-old has been encouraged by the arrival of Pothas, once a successful wicketkeeper-batsman for Hampshire and South Africa and now a specialist fielding coach who will act as Stuart Law’s assistant.

“Nic’s played a lot of cricket and to tap into his experience and expertise is great for me,” said Simpson.

“He’s somebody to lean on a little bit and work with closely.

“I can pick his brains not only as a wicketkeeper — he’s got an excellent record as a batsman as well, so that bodes well for getting the best out of myself.

“He’s forever pushing me, which is great, and his work ethic matches mine. Stuart and Nic have both put an emphasis on our fielding and there’s been a real improvement there.

“We’re doing a lot of agility work, throwing ourselves around, and it’s something we’ve got to keep working hard at throughout the season.”

Having spent part of the winter playing T20 cricket for Chitwan Tigers in the Nepal-based Everest Premier League, alongside county colleagues Paul Stirling and George Scott, Simpson has knuckled down under the new regime at Lord’s.

He has kept wicket in each of Middlesex’s warm-up matches and is in line to retain the gloves when they begin their four-day programme away to Northamptonshire on Friday.

The left-hander is well aware of the need to improve in the batting department if Middlesex, who finished fourth in Division Two last year, are to secure one of three promotion spots this time.

Collectively, the team posted only two first-innings totals in excess of 250, with just four batsmen registering centuries in red-ball cricket throughout 2018.

“It wasn’t my finest season,” Simpson admitted. “When you keep getting 25s and 30s, it’s simply not good enough and as a senior player, I’ve got to do more — that’s a brutal fact.

“When you get dropped, it’s a harsh lesson, but it’s one of those opportunities to get away from the game and refresh your batteries, have a rethink and come back stronger.

“You could have dropped all 11 of us, let’s be honest. James Harris could probably have said ‘I had a really good season’, but there wasn’t any other consistent performer.

“Last year’s gone by the wayside now, it’s about learning from our mistakes as a batting unit. We’ve proved that, when we’re resilient and put scores on the board, not many teams can match us.”

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