Middlesex may look to recruit all-rounder for next season
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Middlesex are set to make the all-rounder’s position their top priority when they begin reshaping the squad for next season.
The Lord’s side have been missing Gareth Berg for almost the entire campaign due to injury, with his bowling duties largely falling to batting all-rounder Neil Dexter.
And Middlesex managing director of cricket Angus Fraser has hinted that they may try to recruit another all-rounder in the close season, especially if Berg’s shoulder injury fails to clear up.
“I certainly don’t see us adding to our seam bowling attack – we’ve got a good group of seam bowlers,” said Fraser.
“I suppose the one area we need to look at is the all-rounder’s position because we have missed that this year, when we’re trying to balance our side, especially in the 50-over game.
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“It’s not that we took Gareth for granted and Neil’s done an admirable job as fourth seamer – but would he fit into the role of a third seamer? Probably not.
“With Gareth it gives you the option of playing two spinners or whatever, so we’ve got to see how he is as well before we make definite plans.”
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Berg, who turns 34 in January, has been with Middlesex since 2007, racking up almost 5,000 runs and more than 200 wickets in all formats in that time.
Irrespective of whether they succeed in retaining their top-flight status, Middlesex will again be working with a limited budget this winter – even more so after Eoin Morgan and Sam Robson missed out on ECB central contracts.
Fast bowler Steven Finn was the only Middlesex player to be awarded an ECB contract for the coming year, meaning the county will have to fund the salaries of Morgan and Robson in their entirety even if they are called up by England.
That places an added strain on Middlesex’s finances – and another thorny issue facing the management is whether they can retain the services of four-day captain Chris Rogers.
The opening batsman may well be on duty for Australia in next summer’s Ashes series, which would rule him out for the majority of the domestic campaign.
“We’ve got decisions to make. Things are happening behind the scenes, but we’ll be working to a similar budget as last year,” Fraser admitted.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure whether Chris is going to be back next year. I suppose we should get an indication from how he performs in the Test matches in the UAE in October and then against India around Christmas time.”
If Rogers proves to be unavailable next season, Middlesex will need to find not only a new overseas player but also an alternative captain for their four-day side.
A leading candidate for that role could be batsman Dawid Malan, who is expected to finalise a new contract with Middlesex in the coming days.
The left-hander has recovered from a lean year with the bat during 2013, passing 1,000 County Championship runs for the season in last week’s 141-run defeat by Durham.
“We’ve had very productive talks and everything’s extremely positive,” said Fraser. “Dawid’s had an outstanding year.
“As a good cricketer should, he’s gone away from a disappointing year, looked at his game and made adjustments, then come back and produced some good performances.”