Franklin has warning as Middlesex relax

Middlesex captain James Franklin celebrates winning the 2016 county championship title (pic John Wal

Middlesex captain James Franklin celebrates winning the 2016 county championship title (pic John Walton/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Captain wants focus on return to busy spell

Middlesex captain James Franklin hopes his players enjoy some rest and relaxation as they sit out this week’s round of Specsavers County Championship games, but warned of the hard work ahead once the reigning county champions return to action next week.

With three draws from as many top-flight starts the Middlesex title defence has not started how Franklin or the county’s supporters might have envisaged.

And, even though they will have at least one game in hand on the entire division when they resume their four-day fixtures against Somerset on Friday, June 2, Franklin is fully aware his side cannot afford any more slip-ups in their quest to retain their championship winner’s pennant.

“The guys are looking forward to a few days off,” said Franklin. “But then we’ve got a big block of four-day cricket throughout June and it’ll be a very busy period for us.

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“We have a huge game back at Lord’s against Somerset to kick the month off and it’s a game we’re very much looking forward to. We’ll have a couple of guys missing on international duty, so there will be a few selection issues to think about.

“Sam Robson [who is averaging 79.50 in the championship] seems to be progressing well with his rehab, so we’ll see he shapes up after we start up with practice nets again next week.

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“It’s still early days in the season and there’s a lot of cricket to played. I’m fairly happy in terms of where we’re at playing our championship cricket and feel that the three draws do at least, give us a fairly sound base to build on.”

As for his own form and fitness, Franklin, who underwent back surgery two years ago, added: “It was slow going to start with this season but I felt I began to find some form during the one-day format [the Royal London One-Day Cup].

“Although the team didn’t go that great in the competition overall, I felt my personal form wasn’t too bad. I spent a bit of time out in the middle with the bat and felt I was just starting to find a bit of a groove with the ball.”

Franklin, 36, won almost 180 international caps across the formats for New Zealand, and added: “I don’t think my effort has been any less or any greater since the operation, but I do feel that I have the ability to bowl that little bit more now.

“I think my back did restrict me a little bit a couple of years ago, but now I get very little pain and there’s a sense I can now do a valuable job with the ball.”

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