Middlesex relishing T20 Blast challenge
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Club welcomes new coach Vettori
The upswing in cricket tempo this month, from the Specsavers County Championship to the NatWest T20 Blast, will be welcomed by some Middlesex members still recovering from the nerve-shredding four-day defeat by Essex at Chelmsford recently.
With just one win and two defeats in the longer form of the game it has been a difficult championship defence for Middlesex, who are sixth in the table, just above the drop zone made up by Somerset and Warwickshire.
But head coach Richard Scott is looking forward to the new challenge, and in particular working alongside former New Zealand all-rounder Daniel Vettori, who has signed a three-year contract with the club.
Vettori will be head coach in the T20 Blast campaign and Scott said: “I will still be involved in the T20, maybe looking at opposition sides and working with players not in our team. But it will be fascinating for me to watch the input from Daniel, and I very much look forward to tapping into his expert knowledge in this form of the game.”
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Angus Fraser, Middlesex’s managing director of cricket, added: “The skills required by players in different forms of the game are wide-ranging – why should coaching be any different? Daniel will only strengthen what is already an outstanding coaching unit.”
Vettori played 113 Tests for New Zealand, but there were also 295 ODI and 34 T20 outings, making up a total of 442 international appearances for his country.
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Since then Vettori has built a reputation as one of the more cerebral coaches in T20 cricket, working with Brisbane Heat in Australia’s Big Bash and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.
There will be a strong Kiwi flavour to Middlesex’s T20 Blast challenge, with Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee the overseas signings.
McCullum made six appearances for Middlesex in last year’s competition and the club are hoping his star billing will bring full house crowds to Lord’s, with the matches against Surrey on July 13 and Essex on July 27 stand-out fixtures.
But before the white ball arrives Middlesex will face Warwickshire in the championship on Monday.
Warwickshire are bottom of the table after four defeats and three draws in seven games and Scott said: “We’re the champions but on current form Essex look like the best side in the country.
They are about to lose a world-class opening batsman in Alastair Cook to the England side. But their bowling has been very strong, with Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer outstanding.
“Hampshire have also put in some eye-catching performances. When you sign Kolpak players who are current Test players it makes a big difference.”