Sing when you're winning
Head coach Richard Pybus has brought harmony to the dressing room at Lord s – but not the kind of harmony you might expect. The former Titans boss, who took over in February, was bamboozled after the first win of the season against Northamp
By Jonny Weeks
Head coach Richard Pybus has brought harmony to the dressing room at Lord's - but not the kind of harmony you might expect.
The former Titans boss, who took over in February, was bamboozled after the first win of the season against Northamptonshire when he discovered there was no Middlesex club song.
His remarks that day sparked an impromptu sing-along - with the players choosing a chorus by American post-grunge band Matchbox Twenty as their victory anthem.
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And according to opening batsman Nick Compton, such post-match antics have helped to galvanise the players in their push for double promotion.
"I think it's really important to celebrate good performances," Compton told Ham&High Sport.
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"If you really enjoy the good times together I think it makes you work harder to reproduce them.
"It was Pybus's idea - when we won the first time he said 'where's the team song?' and we all looked at each other because there wasn't one, which was funny.
"We all got round in a circle and started singing Matchbox Twenty, but about eight of the guys were looking at each other going, 'err, we don't know the words here'. So in future we might have to vote for a song that everybody knows or one that someone actually writes."
Middlesex have won three out of six Championship matches, drawing the other three, and have won two out of six Friend's Provident Trophy matches, giving several opportunities for choral celebration.
Compton has been a reliable figure in the side this year, without knocking a major score.
He is developing steadily from last season when he scored five centuries in what he terms a "breakthrough" campaign.
"I wouldn't say I'm on top form this year but I've been chipping away with a few scores here and there," he said.
"Obviously, as opening batsman you're looking to get in and get a big score.
"I'm quite aware of the fact that I had a good season last year. I'm also very aware that it was only one good season and not to get carried away."
The South African-born right-hander has scored 21, 47, 29, 32, 30 and 51 in his last four matches.
He describes himself as a "flexible" batsman, but says comparisons with his grandfather, Denis - a legend of the 1950s as a cricketer for England and Middlesex and an FA Cup winner with Arsenal - are for others to draw.
"I can play a solid role if needed and dig in for the team, or I've got an array of shots that I can pull out if I need to," he said.
"I quite enjoy a little fine sweep so there might be a similarity with my grandfather there.
"He had a great passion for the game and so do I. He was obviously a great entertainer, but I'd like to make a mark on the game in my own way."
Compton, 24 this month, broke into the England A team last year and is hopeful that he will one day emulate Denis by appearing in a full Test match for his adopted nation - after 12 years in the country, he now brands himself a bona fide Englishman.
In the meantime, he is focused squarely on the task with Middlesex. He says the team are recovering well from the heartbreak of last season's double relegation.
"We know where we've been in the past and as long as we're improving this year, that's fine," he said. "It won't feel like a disaster if we don't get promotion.
"We hit rock bottom and now we're on the way back up. But if we look too far ahead at trophies it would be madness. We've been ticking along nicely so far and our aim must be to build on that.