Middlesex must ‘manage expectation’ of New Zealand star in Twenty20, says Franklin
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
James Franklin has warned that Middlesex cannot expect his former New Zealand team-mate Brendon McCullum to single-handedly transform their fortunes in one-day cricket.
McCullum, who is renowned as one of the world’s leading limited-overs batsmen, is due to arrive at Lord’s next week as Middlesex’s star signing for the NatWest T20 Blast.
The 34-year-old Kiwi will also feature in the Royal London 50-Over Cup, which gets under way in early June – and, along with the T20, is a competition in which the county under-achieved last season.
But all-rounder Franklin, who played alongside McCullum in the New Zealand side for several years, has stressed that the rest of the Middlesex squad must share responsibility for performing better this time.
“Obviously Brendon’s arrival is getting closer and he’s in good form but he’s got that pressure to deal with and it’s probably about managing expectation,” said Franklin.
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“I think we as players within the dressing room have to manage that expectation and realise we can’t solely rely on him to win games of cricket for us.
“There are 10 other guys playing with him who can equally go out and win games. I’m sure it’ll be great to watch him in full flow but equally, if he were to struggle for form, then other people have got to stand up.
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“His contribution isn’t just on the field, it’s off the field as well and the experience he’s had as an international cricketer and a leader will really rub off on the other guys in the dressing room.
“Brendon and I have played together for a long time, since we were 17 or 18 – I captained him a bit when we were kids. We’ve talked a lot about cricket over the years and I think we’ve got similar ideas on the game.”
McCullum, who played 101 Tests and 260 one-day internationals for his country before retiring earlier this year, is currently in action for Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League play-offs.
He has had previous spells in English cricket for Glamorgan, Sussex and Warwickshire and is expected to make his T20 debut for Middlesex when they take on Gloucestershire at Old Merchant Taylor’s School next week.
Dawid Malan captains the team for the T20 Blast campaign, which gets under way on Friday against Hampshire at Uxbridge (5.30pm start), with Franklin taking the reins in 50-over cricket.
“There’s only one way we can go, really, and I think that’s one of the reasons they decided to split the captaincy – to try and energise it and give us fresh voices for each campaign,” Franklin added.
“Dawid’s got his ideas on how he wants to run the T20, I’ve got my ideas on the 50-over game and they’re not too dissimilar but sometimes it’s good to hear from a different voice.
“We’ve got some different game plans to try out and some different personnel might get fitted into that because there are a lot of good young players within the club who are ready to have a good crack at the senior side.
“I think there will be some good opportunities for them in this next phase we’re going into and hopefully we can get on a roll and look to qualify for the finals in either format.”
A third Kiwi, left-arm paceman Mitch McClenaghan, will also be joining Middlesex for the T20 Blast after a brief but successful stint at Lord’s in last year’s tournament.
Middlesex are back in County Championship action on Sunday, facing Hampshire at Old Merchant Taylor’s.