Malan and McCullum can shake up Middlesex T20

Sawid Malan must find the answer to Middlesex’s T20 travails © Getty Images

Director of cricket: Angus Fraser
Captain: Adam Voges (Champ), Dawid Malan (T20), James Franklin (50)

Last season
Specsavers Championship: 2nd Div 1; NatWest Blast: 9th North Group; Royal London Cup: 7th Group B

In: James Fuller (Gloucestershire)
Out: Neil Dexter (Leicestershire), Gurjit Sandhu (released), Harry Podmore (Glamorgan – loan)
Overseas: Adam Voges, Brendon McCullum (T20), Mitchell McClenaghan (T20)

2015 in a nutshell

Judgement on Middlesex’s season in 2015 depends on which competition you care about most. They had a redoubtable Championship season, finishing second to Yorkshire, sustained by James Harris (69 wickets) with the ball and Nick Compton with the bat. Their limited-overs cricket, though, was dire, with a bottom finish in South Group for the second successive year testing their supporters’ patience in the NatWest Blast.

2016 prospects

Middlesex have turned to New Zealand to address their failures in T20 cricket, winning the race for Brendon McCullum, whose desire they will hope has not been tempered by international retirement, and the pace bowling skills of Mitchell McClenaghan. Dawid Malan, unfortunate not to sneak into England’s T20 squad, is a heavy runscorer now asked to turn things around as captain. In the Championship, Middlesex can again hope for a top-three finish. James Fuller strengthens seam bowling stocks, Ravi Patel needs to impose his left-arm slows in all formats and a big season with the bat for Sam Robson would make them a tough Division One side to beat.

Key player

If Middlesex have a pressing need to improve their Twenty20 form, it is fair enough to ask what game-changing contribution Eoin Morgan, England’s T20 captain, is going to make. Morgan made only one half-century in 10 outings in 2015 (he has only made three in 41 in IPL) and Middlesex will hope this time he returns from Sunrisers Hyderabad with his confidence high.

Bright young thing

Max Holden has yet to make his county debut but Middlesex have been so taken by his batting potential that they have lavished a four-year contract upon him. A left-handed opening batsman who admires Alastair Cook and is said to share his desire to succeed, if not his height: he is 5ft 8ins tall.

ESPNcricinfo verdict

Middlesex and Warwickshire are the two counties most likely to scupper Yorkshire’s ambitions for a hat-trick of Championship titles. Their 20-over cricket must surely improve.

Bet365 odds: Specsavers Championship, Div 1: 15/2; NatWest Blast n/a; Royal London Cup 12/1

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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