Middlesex captain Voges targets improvement in County Championship

Adam Voges batting for Middlesex. Pic: Matt Bright Photography

Adam Voges batting for Middlesex. Pic: Matt Bright Photography - Credit: Matt Bright

Middlesex captain Adam Voges has demanded that his side strive to better last year’s second-place finish in the County Championship this season.

Voges missed the bulk of Middlesex’s four-day campaign in 2015, leading the side for their first four fixtures before his services were claimed by the Australia national team.

And, while the 36-year-old is likely to be called away on international duty again later this summer, he intends to leave Middlesex among the front-runners for the Championship crown again.

“We had a wonderful season last year to finish runners-up but I think there’s still room for some growth and improvement in this group and we need to be aiming higher this season,” said Voges.

“I think we’ve got batsmen that are hungry for runs and an attack that can take 20 wickets most games. It’ll be about us being able to perform on a consistent basis throughout what is a pretty long season.

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“I was thrilled when Gus [Fraser] rang me and asked me to come back and captain the club in four-day cricket and I’m very happy to be back in the swing of things.

“Even though I only arrived a few days before the start of the season, it was like I hadn’t left for that long.

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“It’s credit to the set-up that guys can come back in after a long time and feel welcome and comfortable straight away.

“The boys all get on extremely well, they’ve been backed up by the coaching staff and they’ve had that opportunity to build together for the last few years.

“We’ve seen an improvement each year and hopefully, with another year together, we’ll see improvement again, but there’s a lot of hard work to be done.”

Voges first signed for Middlesex as a Twenty20 specialist in 2013 but, ironically, an Australia call-up for the club’s overseas player and captain Chris Rogers meant he was asked to extend his stay and provide cover in the four-day format.

The Western Australia batsman was then invited to replace Rogers again last season, but his elevation to the Ashes side led to the appointment of James Franklin as Middlesex’s stand-in skipper.

This year, both Voges and Franklin are part of a captaincy triumvirate at Lord’s, with the latter leading Middlesex in the Royal London 50-Over Cup and Dawid Malan taking the reins for Twenty20 matches.

“It’s slightly unusual but I think this may be the way forward,” observed Voges. “It gives all three of us some extra responsibility and I’m excited to see how it works out.

“We’ve got a pretty tight-knit group and there are quite a few leaders within that group, so whether it’s myself, Frankie or Mala who have the final say, I think the players will respond well to all of us.

“I think Dawid’s developing into a very good player. His performances in Twenty20 cricket in the last couple of years have been excellent and on the back of that he’s been rewarded with the captaincy.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to show his leadership credentials and I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes – probably more from afar than up close.”

Middlesex’s opening County Championship fixture against Warwickshire ended in a draw, with Sam Robson strengthening his hopes of a recall to England’s Test side as he plundered more runs in a first-class match than any batsman in the county’s history.

Robson followed up his first innings knock of 231 with a score of 106 second time around, while former England batsman Jonathan Trott starred for the visitors by hitting 219.

Middlesex’s next Championship fixture begins on Sunday, against Durham at Chester-le-Street.

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