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Middlesex star refuses to be distracted by England speculation

PUBLISHED: 12:59 22 May 2014

Sam Robson celebrates his century for Middlesex against Nottinghamshire

Sam Robson celebrates his century for Middlesex against Nottinghamshire

© Sarah Williams 2014

Middlesex batsman Sam Robson has vowed not to let speculation about an England call-up this summer distract him from his game.

Robson has been widely tipped to make his Test debut in next month’s series against Sri Lanka following a successful winter tour of the island with England Lions.

That, coupled with inevitable calls for new blood after the senior side’s Ashes humiliation by Robson’s native Australia, has led many observers to tip him as Alastair Cook’s next opening partner.

But the 24-year-old, who was Middlesex’s leading run-scorer in County Championship cricket last year, is determined to shut out the gossip rather than risk losing his concentration at the crease.

“I haven’t really listened to any of that stuff,” said Robson. “I was happy with how things went last season and happy with how things went in the winter as well.

“I feel like I’ve improved a bit in the last two or three years. That’s what I keep working for, to get better and, if higher honours come along down the line, that’d be outstanding.

“But I’ve just tried to ignore that sort of thing and put it all to one side. I think you’ve got to because once you’re out in the middle you’ve got to be watching that ball.

“If your mind’s not on it, you’re not going to be in a great place and early season can be tough. You’re often a bit nervous, trying to get off to a good start, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to contribute a few times.”

So far, Robson’s best performance with the bat this season has been a ruthless knock of 163 against Nottinghamshire to set up Middlesex’s 10-wicket victory at Lord’s last month.

During the last two seasons, he has forged a dependable understanding at the top of the order with skipper Chris Rogers, whose consistent batting has made him a mainstay of Australia’s Test side over the last year.

And Robson – who was brought up in New South Wales, but qualifies for England through his mother – is full of praise for his opening partner’s status as a role model to the rest of the Middlesex side.

“Chris has reaped the rewards for all the runs he’s churned out in the last 10 years or so,” said Robson. “He’s a great example of how you’ve got to keep performing year in, year out and do your best every time you go out to bat.

“It’s not just about doing well in short bursts – you’ve got to put it together over a period of time. He’s a great example not just for me but for everyone in the dressing-room and at the club.

“If you look back two or three years, the make-up of our side then was pretty similar to now, and a lot of the guys were only just starting out in their careers.

“Now we’ve had 30 or 40 more games, we’ve gained more experience and we’re learning and improving. That’s the challenge all the time in cricket, and we’ve got to take it all the way through the season.”

Middlesex moved to the top of Division One on Wednesday after dismantling Northamptonshire to win by an innings and 84 runs - their fourth victory of the season.

Toby Roland-Jones took six wickets in each innings to finish with career-best match figures of 12-105, and also hit 60 in Middlesex’s total of 543-7 declared, which was underpinned by centuries from Rogers and Neil Dexter.

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