MARK Ramprakash believes the key to Middlesex’s success as a batting unit lies in beefing up what is between their ears.
The former Seaxes legend, installed as batting coach this summer, admits the opinion around the game is while Middlesex have a bowling unit, with or without Steven Finn to rival the best in the County Championship's top tier, their potentially explosive, yet flaky middle-order perhaps prevents them being considered genuine title challengers.
It is a perception Ramprakash has every intention of tackling head-on.
One of the best middle-order players Middlesex has produced intends building on the excellent technical work of previous coach Mark O’Neil, by breeding in the likes of Dawid Malan, Joe Denly and Neil Dexter a greater mental resilience which in turn will produce a more consistent flow of runs.
He said: "I want to change the perception that the bowling is the strength of Middlesex, so we are seen as a team equally talented with bat and ball. The likes of Dexter, Malan and Denly have the potential to go on and be really heavy run scorers at this level. I want to see a ruthless streak in the batsman."
Middlesex’s rain-affected draw away to the champions Warwickshire last week provided insight into the challenge ahead for Ramprakash.
While Sam Robson - who established himself in first team ranks after the aforementioned trio - confirmed his brilliant early season form with a career-best 215 not out to see the visitors to maximum batting points, Malan (37), Denly (35) and Dexter (46) produced cameo supporting roles.
Only Dexter has made a half-century in the Championship campaign so far in this campaign.
It is Ramprakash’s contention that the secret of progress for this trio now in their mid-20s is a tough mental approach and consequently all his coaching energies so far have been focused to this end.
He added: "People have their techniques - they have got up to this level by scoring runs a lot of the time and it is not easy to change things technically. You can fine tune bits and pieces and as a player you are constantly evolving, but at this level you are trying to reinforce belief and help players learn from the challenges they face.
"So, 99 per cent of my focus has been about what the batsmen are thinking, how they are coping with situations and what options they are choosing."
This week’s on-field action sees Middlesex continue their three-week road trip with a visit to Taunton to face Somerset.
They will be without Steven Finn away on England duty, but Toby Roland Jones returns after his stint with England Lions and James Harris is expected top be in contention following his hamstring injury.