Middlesex coach reveals secret of Rayner’s success
Middlesex bowling coach Richard Johnson has revealed that a back-to-basics approach helped to generate Ollie Rayner’s astonishing record-breaking performance at The Oval.
Johnson worked closely with the off-spinning all-rounder after he lost form earlier in the season and was dropped from Middlesex’s County Championship team.
But the remarkable upturn in Rayner’s fortunes was there for all to see last week as he bowled Middlesex to victory against Surrey with match figures of 15-118.
That return was the best ever recorded by any Middlesex bowler against their south London rivals and Johnson told london24.com: “Ollie’s come through a tough time – at the start of the year, in his own words, he couldn’t buy a wicket.
“He got to a point where he wasn’t performing as he wanted to – and the management made a decision that we were going to take him back to some of the stuff he used to do.
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“I wouldn’t say we remodelled his action. It’s easier to take a bowler back than trying something completely new during the season.
“Ollie worked very hard and rediscovered some of his old traits. One thing we were trying to get him to do was make use of his height and the extra bounce he can get.
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“It’s a great feeling when you put the hard work in and suddenly you start getting results. If you look at the quality on show in that game, he out-performed all of them.”
Rayner’s feeling of euphoria was one that Johnson can empathise with, having achieved the remarkable feat of taking all 10 wickets in an innings during his own playing career with Middlesex in 1994.
“Professional sport is about not getting carried away one way or the other,” said Johnson. “If you’re taking wickets, you try not to get too excited and, if you’re doing poorly, you can’t afford to get too depressed.
“You’ve got to understand that it’s not always going to be that good – you always get these pockets of wickets, or runs, and you don’t dwell on them too much. As long as you keep working hard, that’s the key.”
Johnson is also coach to Middlesex’s second XI, who can win the championship next week when they face Lancashire in a four-day game at Radlett, starting on Monday.