Middlesex bowlers aim to ruin Chris Rogers’ return to Lord’s with Somerset

Middlesex's Ollie Rayner (right) celebrates a wicket with team-mate John Simpson

Middlesex's Ollie Rayner (right) celebrates a wicket with team-mate John Simpson - Credit: Archant

Middlesex’s bowlers will make former skipper Chris Rogers their top target when he returns to Lord’s with Somerset this weekend, according to Ollie Rayner.

‘Buck’ Rogers, who spent four years with Middlesex before departing at the end of the 2014 season, is facing his old club for the first time in the County Championship clash that gets under way on Sunday.

The Australian left-hander helped Middlesex to the Division Two title in his first season and went on to score a stack of runs for them in the top flight, as well as taking over the captaincy from Neil Dexter.

And off-spinner Rayner, who returned a six-wicket haul in the rain-affected draw gainst Surrey earlier this week, is one of several Middlesex men seeking the prize scalp of their former leader, now in command at Somerset.

“He’s a great player, there’s no two ways about it, and I’d imagine he’ll certainly be the prize wicket for us,” said Rayner. “I think quite a few of the boys will be lining up to try and take that one.

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“Buck did a great job for us over the years and we’re eternally grateful for that. He knows how Lord’s works and he’s going to be a tough opponent to go up against.

“Somerset have a formidable batting line-up but we’re ready for that and we know how to bowl at Lord’s, don’t forget, so hopefully we can get a result.

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“I’m sure there will be a few nerves there for Buck as well. He’ll be up for it and he’ll want to show why he should have stayed.”

Ominously, Rogers – who won 25 Test caps – is yet to record a century for his new county, although he did score 91 in their game against Yorkshire earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Rayner was relieved to be among the wickets again at the Kia Oval – the ground where he collected a record 15 in the match almost three years ago.

The 30-year-old was left out of Middlesex’s first three County Championship fixtures this season as the Lord’s side opted for an all-pace attack on each occasion.

“I wasn’t too fussed about missing the game at Durham, which was snowed off!” Rayner admitted. “On the Sunday they were gritting the roads and I didn’t think that would be great news for spin.

“We’ve got a very strong seam attack and, when the likes of Steven Finn are around, it’s very hard to drop one of the seamers. So you just wait in the wings, do your stuff and hopefully when you get your opportunity you take it.

“Obviously I’m ecstatic with the six-for – it’s been a few years since I took five in the Championship, so it’s a great feeling. The pitch at the Oval turns and it’s got a good pace to it generally.

“At Lord’s, if it does turn it’s generally slow turn, and I’d rather get pace and bounce. With a bit of a tweak, happy days – and I’m in the game!”

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