Middlesex win County Championship: How Angus Fraser revitalised Lord's side

By Rob StevensBBC Sport
Middlesex's players celebrate winning the County Championship title
Middlesex's players celebrate winning the County Championship title for the first time since 1993

Several of Middlesex's players may have woken up with sore heads on Saturday morning, having celebrated winning the County Championship title in dramatic circumstances on Friday.

Toby Roland-Jones' hat-trick sealed a 61-run victory over Yorkshire and ended a 23-year wait for first-class silverware at Lord's.

A cumulative crowd of 21,595 came through the turnstiles over the four days against the White Rose county, which is the highest attendance for a County Championship game at Lord's since May 1966.

Angus Fraser, who was part of the Middlesex side which won the title in 1993, helped mastermind the club's revival following his appointment as managing director of cricket ahead of the 2009 season.

Fraser overhauls Middlesex philosophy

Steven Finn and Angus Fraser
Angus Fraser (right, pictured with Middlesex and England bowler Steven Finn) became a cricket journalist after his retirement from playing before returning to Lord's as managing director of cricket

Middlesex had suffered relegation to the second tier in 2006 and were languishing in mid-table when former England bowler Fraser returned to the club.

His initial task upon his appointment at Lord's involved overhauling the club's ethos in a bid to revitalise the atmosphere at the north London side.

"I came back and there were a lot of players thinking the club was lucky to have them," the 51-year-old told BBC Radio London.

"You think of [Mike] Gatting, [Mark] Ramprakash, [Phil] Tufnell, [John] Emburey, [Denis] Compton, [Don] Bennett and [Phil] Edmonds.

"There are so many significant cricketers who have come through this club, and this club has had such a good history, that you think 'you are lucky to be here'.

"I wanted people who played for us to be aware of that. To shift the mentality means you do move some players along and look at the character of players before you sign them."

Middlesex were promoted back to Division One in 2011 and, barring a seventh-placed finish in 2014 which Fraser criticised, have been competitive since their return to the top flight.

Fraser has 'nurtured' side

Middlesex finished second in the County Championship last season, which set the platform for an unbeaten campaign in 2016 which secured top spot.

Former England skipper Mike Gatting, who captained the club to their last title success in 1993, says this year's achievement is the culmination of Fraser's hard work.

"We have had a good team for two or three years but it has taken a bit of time to get to where it needed to get to," Gatting said.

"You could say they have been underachieving, because of the talent within the team. It does take something to click within a group of players for them to take responsibility and not make excuses.

"Gus has worked awfully hard. It is a happy side and he knows what it needs to be like in the dressing room, with people willing to play for each other and stick together.

"He has nurtured it through and it has been great to see him get a bit of reward as opposed to some frustration."

Middlesex 'family' eye improvement

Fraser's next challenge will be to get Middlesex consistently challenge for silverware - especially with more of their players beginning to achieve international recognition.

Batsman Nick Gubbins, spinner Ollie Rayner and seamer Roland-Jones have all been selected for the England Lions tour this winter while Nick Compton and Sam Robson retain ambitions of winning recalls to the Test side.

"Yorkshire have been the benchmark for the last couple of years and will come back hungrier next season," captain James Franklin told BBC Radio London.

"We have to make sure through the winter we regroup and keep getting better ourselves.

"This team could do something special over the next couple of years. We have a great crop of younger players who are desperate and keen to break into the first XI.

"There is great internal competition but we all love playing with one another. We are quickly becoming a family."

Toby Roland-Jones and James Franklin
Toby Roland-Jones (left) will feature for the England Lions over the winter while captain James Franklin says the players are "becoming a family"

Roland-Jones, who finished the season with 54 Championship wickets at an average of 28.22, is eager to push on once their title celebrations are over.

"In the months to come there will be a lot of reflection as to how we can improve individually and as well as a team," the 28-year-old said.

"That is exciting as we are certainly not the finished article, although we have been moving in the right direction for a long period."


BBC Radio London's Kevin Hand:

"For Middlesex to end a 23-year wait for a title was incredible.

"For Middlesex to do it against a Yorkshire side that were going for a hat-trick of titles and to do it at Lord's, that was something Mike Gatting and Mike Brearley - who won six titles outright between them - never achieved.

"To do it in front of 7,000 spectators is incredible for Middlesex and the County Championship as a whole.

"Managing director Angus Fraser will heap praise on everybody around him but he is the man that took over in 2008 with the club pretty much on its knees in the County Championship.

"The side were drifting towards the bottom of the Division Two table and Angus Fraser said "I'm shaking down this county, I'm putting things back together and I am going to get things back on track".

"He's put together a team that he will hope, much like the side in 1993, will go on and continue this form and stay around the top of the table for many years to come."

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