KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Middlesex all-rounder Ollie Rayner has been called-up to the England Lions squad for their tour of Sri Lanka, after Simon Kerrigan pulled out through injury.
Rayner's first involvement with a senior England squad is the culmination of a breakthrough 12 months for the tall off-spinner, who was the leading spinner in the top flight of the LV= County Championship last summer with 46 wickets at 22.04.
The German-born 28-year-old will be hoping to impress on the Sri Lanka trip, particularly with England's Test spin options in flux following Graeme Swann's retirement during the recent Ashes series.
He joins teammates Sam Robson and James Harris in the 15-man squad which will play two three-day and three four-day matches, under the captaincy of Warwickshire's Chris Woakes.
Robson is another who will be identifying the start of the county summer as a real chance to capitalise on England's new era. The Australian-born opener scored heavily as part of the England Performance Programme squad Down Under this winter and knows that Michael Carberry's international future is in doubt.
Elsewhere, Middlesex were bouyed by the news that Tim Murtagh has signed a new deal which will keep him at the county until the end of the 2016 season.
The Ireland international has led Middlesex's attack superbly in recent years to the extent that no English bowler has claimed more than his 410 first-class wickets at 24.77 in the past seven seasons.
Off the pitch, Angus Fraser has admitted he is a candidate to become a national selector, following the retirement of Geoff Miller. The Middlesex Managing Director of Cricket would remain in post at Lord's if appointed to the role - while another Panthers legend John Emburey is also in the running.
However Fraser's most pressing England concern remains assisting Steven Finn through the toughest spell of his career to date.
The fast bowler - whose well documented problems led to him being withdrawn early from England's disastrous tour of Australia - has been given time off from bowling, but has visited his mentor Fraser at Lord's since returning to London.
MCC Cricket Annual 2013: Middlesex CCC