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Franklin: Middlesex must show more focus

PUBLISHED: 14:30 09 August 2017

Middlesex captain James Franklin celebrates winning the 2016 county championship title (pic John Walton/PA)

Middlesex captain James Franklin celebrates winning the 2016 county championship title (pic John Walton/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Captain reflects on loss to Warwickshire

Middlesex captain James Franklin (pic Lauren Hurley/PA) Middlesex captain James Franklin (pic Lauren Hurley/PA)

James Franklin admits Middlesex’s players, crowned county champions less than a year ago, will be engaging in some honest self-criticism following a shock 190-run beating by bottom-of-the-table Warwickshire at Lord’s.

Middlesex collapsed to 136 all out in pursuit of 327 and Franklin knows they need to apply themselves better.

He said: “We have slipped a little bit away from the type of four-day cricket we have played in recent times.

“We need to get back to building good partnerships with the bat and being unrelenting with the ball. We have a fortnight or so before our next championship match, against Surrey at the Oval, and we will certainly be scratching our heads and trying to put things right before then.”

Franklin confessed that he and the county’s senior coaches were initially at a loss to explain the side’s spectacular collapse, with bat and ball, that led to Warwickshire running up 361 in their second innings – on a pitch that Ian Bell, the Warwickshire captain, called “the worst I have seen at Lord’s” – before skittling Middlesex in a single session.

The crushing three-day defeat came after previously winless Warwickshire had been bundled out for just 126 at the start of a Specsavers County Championship Division One contest, with Middlesex then replying with 161 on a rollercoaster opening day that featured the fall of 20 wickets on a well-grassed, seaming surface.

Franklin added: “I think we missed a trick on that first day, having bowled so well to get them out cheaply. We then had a great opportunity to get true dominance, but we slid to 59-6 and although we did recover a bit to get a narrow lead we should have batted better.

“If we had been still batting on the second morning, we could have pulled away.”

As it was, Warwickshire struggled to 139-5 in their second innings – an overall lead barely into three figures – before Matt Lamb, Chris Woakes and the lower order blunted Middlesex’s seam attack and then took the game away from the champions.

“In our last five or six championship games this season we have been very inconsistent,” said Franklin.

“We could easily have lost four of those games and that’s because we have not played in the way that has characterised our championship cricket over the past few years.

“We know we have a lot of individual talent in our dressing room, and we know we have the skills. But the secret is how we put it all together collectively, and we have to start doing that again if we are to bounce back in our last five championship games.”

The London derby against Surrey starts on August 28 and September’s final four championship rounds see Middlesex away at Yorkshire and Somerset and home to Hampshire and Lancashire.

Whisper it, but relegation worries will intensify if they do not quickly restore morale and four-day form.

Adam Voges, the former Australia batsman who pulled out of the Warwickshire game half-an-hour before the start due to a recurrence of an old calf muscle problem, is expected to be fully fit in time for the Surrey match at the end of this month.

But Middlesex are waiting to see the results of scans to determine how long Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson – who both suffered hamstring injuries against Warwickshire – will be sidelined.

The recall of England Under-19 captain Max Holden from his extended loan spell at Northamptonshire should not be ruled out if top order injuries continue to dog Middlesex.

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