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Johnson, Sadler question Kookaburra trial after high-scoring draw

Middlesex and Northants pile on 1105 runs between them for loss of eight wickets

Leus du Plooy reached three figures for the first time for Middlesex, Northamptonshire vs Middlesex, County Championship, Division Two, Wantage Road, April 14, 2024

Leus du Plooy reached three figures for the first time for Middlesex on the third day  •  Getty Images

Middlesex 553 for 2 (Holden 211, du Plooy 196, Fernandes 103) drew with Northamptonshire 552 for 6 declared (Gay 261, Sales 113*, Procter 73)
Heavy rain and blustery winds ruled out any play on the final day of this Vitality County Championship match between Northamptonshire and Middlesex at Wantage Road, both teams taking away eight points for a high-scoring draw.
The players took an early lunch but with winds buffeting the covers and dark clouds circling the ground, the umpires called the game off shortly after 1pm. The early finish prevented Leus du Plooy from adding the four runs he needed to bring up what would have been the second double hundred of his career, while Max Holden finished unbeaten on 211.
The teams had 1105 runs between them for the loss of just eight wickets, leading both head coaches to question the worth of trialling the Kookaburra ball in the early months of the English season.
"The two rounds later in the year with the Kookaburra might be slightly different, with the drier conditions, used pitches potentially," Richard Johnson, Middlesex's coach said. "It's difficult early season with the softer wickets. The ball goes very soft very quickly and there's no competition bat vs ball when it's a good wicket with a Kookaburra early season in England. Hopefully it's an experiment we don't carry on with, but we'll see.
"I think tactically you can do things later in the season [with the Kookaburra]. I think it's harder to do that early in the season. So, for the Kookaburra you can go on a bit more worn pitches and used pitches and use your spinners a lot more. But it's quite hard to do that with a damp ball early season, damp, green outfield. It just goes soft so quickly."
John Sadler, Northants' coach, said: "The reasons for using the Kookaburra ball are to encourage pace. I don't know who suddenly started going 90 miles an hour. I've not seen that. It's to encourage a lot more spin which we have seen, so it depends on what the brief is and the reasons for it.
"It's booked in for two games later in the season, so we'll worry about that then. But even from the batters, I think there's a welcome back to the Dukes. Our view, certainly down at Sussex [in our] first game, was as soon as it got wet, that was it. There was no chance of reverse swing or anything like that. It got wet and it kind of ballooned up a little bit."
Sadler hopes that George Scrimshaw, who has been playing for Northants' second XI this week, will be fit enough to face Glamorgan on Friday. But he added that Jack White is unlikely to return until early May.