Coach wants Middlesex batsmen to follow Chris Rogers’ example this season
Middlesex’s batsmen must strive to match the standards set by Chris Rogers if they want to realise their international ambitions, according to coach Richard Scott.
Left-hander ‘Buck’ Rogers, who captained Middlesex to third place in the County Championship last season, was the only regular top-order batsman to pass 1,000 runs and finish with an average above 40.
Now Scott is expecting bigger contributions from the other batsmen in the side when Middlesex get the new campaign under way on Wednesday against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
“Chris is a consistent performer, day in, day out, and it’s up to the rest of them to show what they can do,” said the Middlesex coach. “A few of the players know they can develop and do better.
“Joe Denly’s started well with a big knock for the MCC [against Warwickshire] and we’ve also got the likes of Sam Robson, Dawid Malan and Neil Dexter who will be looking to improve on last year.
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“If guys like that have ambitions to play at a higher level, they’ve got to put their hands up and make sure they put themselves in the shop window through volume of runs.
“If they do, it’ll be good news for them and good news for Middlesex. We can’t wait for the first game and we look forward to taking Notts on.”
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Rogers, now beginning his third season with the county, will again lead their four-day side, with club captain Neil Dexter taking over for 40-over and Twenty20 fixtures.
Aside from the retirement of ex-England skipper Andrew Strauss, there have been few changes to the squad that earned Middlesex’s best County Championship placing since 1995.
All-rounder Steven Crook has rejoined former club Northamptonshire, while the major arrival at Lord’s has been England Lions seamer James Harris from Glamorgan.
Harris will strengthen an already formidable pace attack that includes Tim Murtagh, Toby Roland-Jones, Corey Collymore and Gareth Berg – plus Steven Finn, subject to his England commitments.
“We have a strong attack and James has brought an extra dimension to it,” said Scott. “He’s a very good cricketer who looks after himself and we’re very pleased to have acquired his services.
“He can bowl long spells and varied spells and he’s also a handy batsman who brings some quality down the order. That’s part of the modern game – everyone’s got to contribute.
“We’ve got a hard-working group of players who don’t just concentrate on their prime skill – they take pride in developing other aspects of their game as well.”
Despite their lofty finish just a year after winning promotion to Division One, there is no chance of complacency creeping in at Middlesex – after all, 2011 champions Lancashire plunged into Division Two last season.
Worcestershire were also relegated and the pair have been replaced by Derbyshire, who will be the opposition when Middlesex play their first match at Lord’s next week, and Yorkshire.
Every county side has had to contend with near-freezing weather conditions during their build-up to the new campaign, with Middlesex setting up a marquee at Radlett, their newest outground, to enable the players to train.
Scott added: “The lads have been wearing beanie hats and gloves in practice, but they’ve just rolled up their sleeves and got on with it and that’s great credit to them.
“They’ve been tremendous, they know they’ve got to keep working as hard as they did last year because this league dictates that you’ve got to be on the ball all the time.
“We’re under no illusions – it’s not going to be a walk in the park. We pride ourselves on being hard to beat and our reintroduction to Division One last year showed that.
“We’ll have the same philosophy again – to make sure we’re a match for everyone and be competitive. Our aim will be to mirror what we did last year and, if we can do that, we’ll reset our goals later in the season.”