Middlesex must be ready for Richo when they face Worcestershire
11:00 02 May 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Middlesex coach Richard Scott admits his batsmen must improve to counter the threat of former Lord’s paceman Alan Richardson when they take on Worcestershire on Thursday.
Although he will turn 37 on the final day of the County Championship clash at Lord’s, Richardson – who spent five years with Middlesex – has struck something of a purple patch in the twilight of his career.
Named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year for 2011, he has made an impressive start to the current campaign with 19 wickets in three games for Worcestershire, including a match haul of 10-128 against Surrey.
Those figures hint at problems for Richardson’s former county, who have mustered totals in excess of 200 just twice so far this season – often, admittedly, in conditions conducive to seam bowling.
“Playing at Lord’s is always a privilege and a pleasure, but the two wickets they’ve laid so far have both dented and made batting very difficult,” Scott reflected.
“But we are losing wickets in clusters and that’s what we can’t afford to do. We’ve talked a lot about building partnerships and frustrating the opposition and we can’t get that going at the moment.
“All the sides we’ve played so far have had that one threat who’s high quality, with really steady bowlers around them. Somerset had [Vernon] Philander and Durham had [Graham] Onions and Richo’s no different.
“When he was here, he was a class act. He was dogged with injuries towards the latter part of his career with us but, since moving to the Midlands, he’s had a new lease of life and proved what a dangerous bowler he is.
“He hits the pitch hard and gets a bit of bounce, so we’re going to have to be at our best as a batting unit to see him off. If we can build partnerships and put a score on the board, we’re going to be a hard side to beat.”
Middlesex were fortunate to escape defeat in their last game against Durham, with rain intervening after John Simpson and Tim Murtagh had held up the visitors with a ninth-wicket stand of 82 on the last day.
The match eventually ended in a draw, leaving Middlesex joint fifth in the Division One table, and Scott remains optimistic about their prospects.
“Certainly the weather helped us out and Simpson and Murtagh in effect saved the game for us and bought us time,” he admitted. “But we’ve got a never say die attitude and that’s what we showed in the end.
“We’ve played three quality sides, with more depth in bowling and batting – they’ve presented different challenges and we’re excited about the challenges that lie ahead.
“We believe this is where we belong and we’re excited about facing Worcestershire because it presents us with another good challenge against quality players.”
England pair Andrew Strauss and Steven Finn are both likely to feature against Worcestershire and may also be available for Middlesex’s trip to face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge next week.
In between those fixtures, the Panthers begin their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign against Gloucestershire Gladiators at Lord’s on Bank Holiday Monday, starting at 1.45pm, with Ireland international batsman Paul Stirling expected to make his first appearance of the season.