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Winter work Published: 13 February 2013

Winter work

With their first match at Lord's now only a little over two months away, we take a look at how Middlesex CCC have been faring during the months of darkness.

After a superb first season back in the top flight of the LV= County Championship in 2012, where they finished third, Middlesex will have their minds set on putting together a title challenge in 2013. They'll also be hoping to arrest a slump in their t20 fortunes in the past two summers.

New signings have been scarce, but Director of Cricket Angus Fraser did secure the most prized signature on the county circuit late last year, when Glamorgan and England Lions fast-bowler James Harris joined an already formidable stable of seam bowlers based at Lord's.

On the dotted line

Harris, who could make his international debut against New Zealand on England's current tour, has been one of the premier young quick bowlers on the domestic scene for a number of years, but felt his England prospects were being hampered in division two of the LV= County Championship with Glamorgan.

His name was linked with the likes of Nottinghamshire but the prospect of being mentored by two former England seamers in Fraser and Bowling Coach Richard Johnson - as well as playing his cricket at Lord's - brought the 22-year-old to London.

Adam Voges, the Australia international, is Middlesex's other major signing for 2013.

The experienced batsman will come on board for the t20 campaign in June and July and should be available for the entire tournament.

Elsewhere a number of players have put pen-to-paper with new long-term deals, including all-rounder Gareth Berg, Ireland international Paul Stirling his compatriot, England batsman Eoin Morgan and international prospect Toby Roland-Jones.

Steven Crook and Tom Scollay have left the club.

The biggest name to join the county for the upcoming season however comes off the pitch. Mark Ramprakash, who famously left the Club for rivals Surrey during his playing career, is back at Lord's as Middlesex's Batting Coach.

Captaincy

Last year was a difficult one for Club Captain Neil Dexter, who stepped down from the role in the County Championship early in the campaign after suffering a loss of form due to a pre-season which was curtailed following the death of his brother.

Opener Chris Rogers replaced him for the remainder of the season in the longer format, with Dexter staying in charge in the t20 and CB40 tournaments, and the arrangement will remain the same this summer.

Keeping their eye in

Middlesex's squad have dispersed far and wide this winter.

A number of the squad took part in the ICC World t20, including Morgan, Steven Finn and Stirling, while Tim Murtagh was an unused part of the Ireland squad.

Finn and Morgan continued to India later in the winter, with Finn's part in England's historic Test series win curtailed by injury after playing a key role in the victory in Kolkota. Finn has been joined by Harris in New Zealand, with the new signing hoping his England debut takes place before his Middlesex one.

Toby Roland-Jones meanwhile spent time with England's development squad in India before Christmas.

Stirling's post-Christmas activity has come in Bangladesh, where he and Joe Denly have been taking part in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Stirling in particular has had a strong outing in the second year of the competition for Sylhet Royals, rattling off 251 runs in his first ten knocks at a frightening strike-rate of 171.91.


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