Middlesex wicketkeeper, John Simpson, has had a fine start to the season – playing a key role in the Club’s unbeaten start to the LV= Insurance County Championship campaign.
Simpson, 33, has scored 354 runs in six matches in the Championship so far this summer at an average of 70.80, with a high-score of 104 not out against Glamorgan in Cardiff.
Some may argue that the Bury native is in the form of his life, but what does he put it down to?
“I spent six months looking at a few things,” said Simpson. “One of the things that I wanted to have a look at was the mental side of my game as that was a side that I think I neglected a little but have become a little curious about, developing different mental routines before training days in and around batting and before keeping.
“Maybe I’ve been guilty of coasting a little. That’s not really what I’ve been wanting to happen, but I’ve had that kick up the backside.”
Speaking during the Sussex game at Hove earlier this month, Simpson revealed that he had been working with a psychologist over the close season and has admitted that having a clear head and being able to focus on the task at hand has been a massive help.
“I have never bought into the mental side as much as I should have done,” explained Simpson.
“I have been writing a diary entry every morning – taking notes on what excites me about the day, what I’m curious about and how the day might go as well as anything else that is on my mind.
“I want to work on keeping my mind sharp, whether that be reading a book or listening to relaxing music. Even having simple things like reflection periods to keep me focused are good.
“We have looked into my identity as a batter; what do I want to be known for? On top of this, we’ve also been talking about processes and how they can end up producing positive outcomes.”
Another thing that has helped Simpson so far this summer has been the fact that batters above him in the team have been making significant contributions.
This has benefited the side as he has been able to play his natural game and show the powers that be what he really is capable of.
“One thing I pride myself on is being the most adaptable player in the club. It has been fun and having Mark Stoneman, Robbo (Sam Robson), Pete (Handscomb), Robbie (White), Eski (Steven Eskinazi), Josh (De Caires) and Davo (Jack Davies) means we’ve got some really exciting batters. It allows me to enjoy myself and play my natural game down the order.
“We’ve always had some really good batters. The results over the last couple of years haven’t reflected truly on the caliber of batters that we have.
“For me, it has been about concentrating on me and raising my own bar. I don’t want to be constantly worrying about what the other guys are doing – I want to be performing to the best of my ability.
“I’ve been in some tricky positions previously, but it has been nice to get into my zone and put the hard work of the winter into practice – which ultimately brings a sense of calm and control. Hopefully that has come across when people are watching me bat.”
Simpson is also conscious of the Club’s future and has been working hard with 20-year-old, Daniel O’Driscoll, who is an exciting young talent and someone who will be itching to take the gloves when given his opportunity, which could well come this summer…
Speaking of O’Driscoll, Simpson said: “Doddy is young and a breath of fresh air.
“I want to try and help him because I know that I’m not going to be around forever and whoever steps in has to be ready for that challenge whenever that may be.
“Comparing it to when I was first here, when I had Ben Scott and David Nash to look up to, he has myself, Robbie (White) and Davo (Jack Davies) to help him develop.
“Last winter was the first that I had been able to spend with him and he was like a sponge – exactly like I was at his age. We looked at my technique and talked through bits and pieces.
“He’s always asking questions and improving. For him it’s about going and enjoying his cricket, showcasing what he’s got.”
With red-ball cricket done and dusted for a few weeks, it’s time for Simpson to focus on showcasing his world-class white-ball skills as our Vitality Blast campaign gets underway.