New arrivals set to lift Middlesex
Posted in Domestic Cricket
In recent seasons, newly-promoted teams have not exactly set the world alight in Division One of the LV= County Championship, but Middlesex could be about to buck that trend.
After claiming the Division Two title on the final day of the 2011 campaign with a five-wicket victory over Leicestershire, the Lord’s-based county have wasted little time in strengthening their squad with a series of intriguing signings.
Opener Joe Denly and off-spinning all-rounder Ollie Rayner have both made the switch to the capital and will hope to slot straight into the first team.
Denly, who featured in nine one-day internationals and five Twenty20 matches for England between August 2009 and February 2010, has opted to seek a new challenge after more than a decade with Kent, while Rayner’s move from Sussex will have come as no surprise to any follower of domestic cricket.
Having impressed during two loan spells with Middlesex, he will surely relish the opportunity of taking on the premier spinner role after being overshadowed at the PROBIZ County Ground firstly by Pakistan’s Mushtaq Ahmed and then England’s Monty Panesar.
With both Denly and Rayner having a point to prove to former clubs, their signings could prove inspired, but managing director of cricket Angus Fraser has also built for the future with the acquisition of some talented youngsters
Although experienced all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple has departed the club for a second time, Middlesex, who are led by the consistent Neil Dexter, have an exciting team that already boasts the likes of Australia-born batsman Sam Robson, who scored 885 championship runs at 59 this summer, the talented Dawid Malan and emerging seamer Toby Roland-Jones.
What could also work in Middlesex’s favour is the fact many of their players are sure to be desperate to make an impression in Division One.
Batsmen Chris Rogers and Scott Newman plus bowlers Corey Collymore and Tim Murtagh are among those to have gone somewhat under the radar in recent years and this is now their time to show what they can do against the very best players in the English domestic game.
Middlesex’s high-profile trio of England players - Andrew Strauss, Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan - are obviously unlikely to be available for much of the campaign.
But with Strauss having retired from international limited-overs cricket, they may be boosted by his brilliance at the top of the order at end of the campaign, which could be the catalyst to see they avoid relegation or give them inspiration to challenge at the top. Finn could also have a role to play at county level depending on who the England selectors choose to lead the national team’s pace attack.
Middlesex are bound to find life back in Division One tough but, with plenty of talented players having points to prove and scores to settle, they could be the surprise package. Watch this space!