Middlesex's John Simpson is blogging for Lords.org this summer, as the Londoners prepare for life back in division one...
The season is upon us already and Middlesex are gearing up for life back in division one of the LV County Championship.
The club’s aspirations for this season are too play good, solid cricket. I think if we play anything like the brand of cricket we played last year, when we won division two, then we’re a challenge for any side, even in the top division.
We have a quality now in terms of our batting and our bowling that we can put runs on the board and put teams under pressure.
We want to challenge some of the bigger sides; Lancashire, Durham, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. Hopefully whatever the result or the outcome, those teams come away thinking ‘Middlesex are a good side’.
We’ve signed new players well and I’m looking forward to playing with Joe Denly, who I played with for England under 19s.
He’s a very good opening batsman and he’ll be a great signing for us so I’m looking forward to being on the same team sheet as him again.
We’ve got an absolute legend of the game in charge here at Middlesex in Gus Fraser as well, which helps.
As Finny (Steven Finn) says, he has his moments of being miserable and grumpy, but he also has the other side of him where he’s great to go for a beer with.
He’s very down to earth and I actually see him as very influential in my career. My parents live abroad in Spain, so I almost look up to him as like a fatherly figure.
Working with heroes
Personally, I’m happy with my winter’s training. I spent three months playing for Hawthorn University in Melbourne which was a good experience.
I didn’t get quite the results I was looking for in terms of runs scored, but I felt the technical aspects went well and training was really useful in terms of spending lots of time in the sun. It was great tanning weather as well!
I also had six sessions with Jack Russell on my keeping before I went away to Melbourne.
I’ve been working with Jack for about a year and a half now and have found it very beneficial. He’s a hero of mine, obviously a great gloveman and somebody I look up to as a young ‘keeper.
However, I’ve no plans whatsoever to adopt the sun hat and the sunglasses look.
It’s a bit old school and I think my mum would be appalled at the way I turned out if I did!
I would obviously love to follow in Jack’s footsteps and play for England one day, but first and foremost I have to concentrate on my results for Middlesex.
What I do out in the middle for Middlesex is ultimately going to dictate my career moving forward.
So hopefully all going well if I can have a good season in county cricket, I can put a bit of pressure on the younger lads who’ve been around the England set-up already - perhaps force my way onto a Lions or Performance trip.
For now though, it's all about this season with Middlesex.
John Simpson was talking to Lords.org