England batsman has a point to prove, says Middlesex coach
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Middlesex hope Eoin Morgan’s return will help to galvanise their batting as they gear up for the new County Championship campaign.
Morgan, who lost his central contract with the ECB at the end of last season, has been appointed the county’s limited-overs captain after Neil Dexter relinquished the post.
But the left-hander is also expected to make a significant contribution to Middlesex’s four-day fortunes, starting when they take on Sussex at Hove on Sunday.
The Lord’s side were heavily reliant on the run-scoring achievements of opening pair Chris Rogers and Sam Robson last season – and could well lose the latter to England’s Test team in the near future.
Rogers has been awarded a central contract by Cricket Australia, but that should not affect his availability to lead Middlesex in the Championship this summer.
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“Eoin’s a class act in all forms of the game and I’m sure he’ll be looking to get as many runs as he can in April to stake his claim [for England],” said Middlesex coach Richard Scott.
“Having him coming back into the team increases competition for batting places and that can only be good. There are a lot of batsmen within our middle order who will maybe want to prove a point this year.
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“I think Eoin’s got ambitions to be a leader – before his central contract he was a natural choice. With his experience globally, we’re very much looking forward to him driving us on.
“For the last two years we’ve been a force in Division One. If we can improve on that again, we’re going to be fighting for honours and that’s what we want.”
Middlesex, who were genuine title contenders for much of last summer before faltering late on to finish fifth, go into the new season with a virtually unchanged squad.
But the coach is confident his side can challenge for the top again, underlining the strength of their seam attack as a major factor in their championship credentials.
“Toby Roland-Jones and James Harris were out for long periods last season, so having them both fit does make it feel like a fresh squad,” added Scott.
“With them, Steven Finn and Tim Murtagh, plus Gareth Berg as our all-rounder, it’s a pretty awesome attack to choose from. Then we’ve got the likes of Tom Helm, Harry Podmore and Gurjit Sandhu to back that all up.
“So our bowling stocks are looking good. If we had a call-up or an injury, I’m confident we’ve got good young bowlers to come in and do a job.
“With Lancashire and Northants coming up, there are no easy games this year and it’s going to be tough. But, with consistency right through our batting and keeping the bowlers fit, I wouldn’t back against us.”