Fraser excited by Division One return
Angus Fraser is looking forward to seeing his players battling it out with the best sides in the domestic game again as Middlesex return to the top-flight in 2012.
The south-east county, based at Lord’s, are one of the biggest names on the English cricketing landscape, with a rich history epitomised by some of their greats; Bill Edrich, Denis Compton and Wayne Daniel head an illustrious list of players to have played for the club.
However, when Fraser undertook his role as managing director of cricket in 2008, Middlesex were languishing in Division Two of the LV= County Championship having suffered relegation two years earlier.
But, much to the delight of their chief, the club will end a five-year absence and again play at the pinnacle of the domestic game after gaining promotion last year.
“It is a big thing for us to be up there,” he told ecb.co.uk. “Nobody has got any right to be up there - you’ve got to play well.
“Historically, Middlesex has got a strong and successful history. Over the last few years, it has not pleased anybody to be in Division Two.
“It was a major goal to get back in the first division because that’s where I believe the best teams in the country are; we want to be up there playing against the best sides in the country.”
Middlesex’s history is in stark contrast to previously lesser-known counties such as Durham.
The north-east club gained first-class status just 21 years ago and, subsequently, do not possess the rich history of Middlesex et al.
However, their recent past is considerably richer than that of their foes down south, with back-to-back Championship titles coming in 2008 and 2009.
“There are some good clubs about and there are some who have come a long way in the last six or seven years,” added Fraser.
“Clubs that were not previously considered to be big teams like Durham and Somerset are now two of the strongest in the country.”
As for his aims this season, Fraser is more focussed on good performances, insisting results will look after themselves.
“It’s a question of whether it’s the performance or the result that’s most important and I think it is the performance,” he said.
“If we can perform the way we did last year and apply the brand of cricket we did then I think we will be competitive.
“My desire for the year is after we play sides like Somerset, Durham, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, their coach says to their captain ‘This lot are a decent side that are going in the right direction’.
“Obviously, we want to finish as high in the division as we possibly can and I believe if we play the way we can, we will be competitive.”
Achieving a high finish may not necessarily be dependent only on Middlesex’s form, for in cricket other factors can often have the greatest effect.
Lancashire, prior to being crowned County Champions last season, were among those who regularly saw promising campaigns ruined by frequent draws due to adverse weather conditions.
It is a fate that Fraser at one point feared would befall Middlesex last year, with the elements at times curtailing their late-season charge.
The former England international believes that would have been harsh given he viewed his side as the best in the second tier last season - something that is backed up by them eventually winning Division Two.
“I felt we were the best side in Division Two throughout last season,” he added.
“But promotion could have easily evaded us due to matters outside of our control like the weather in the last couple of weeks.
“It can be precarious - sometimes you can play really well but it can be precarious.”