New Middlesex chief Stuart Law plans to recruit a specialist fielding coach to raise the standard of the team’s performances in one-day cricket.
Law, who took over as the county’s new head coach at the start of January, has immediately identified an improvement in fielding skills as one of his main priorities at Lord’s.
Middlesex have only once qualified for the knockout stages of either white-ball competition since they were T20 champions in 2008 – and the 50-year-old Queenslander feels sharpness in the field is key to changing that miserable record.
The county lost both batting coach David Houghton and bowling coach Richard Johnson – who joined Derbyshire and Surrey respectively at the end of last season – but Law indicated that the pair may not be directly replaced.
He said: “I’ve got a batting background, so I can shoulder most of the workload there, but we are looking to gain the services of a couple of specialist coaches. The one area I really want to target is fielding.
“The best fielding teams often go a long way towards winning white-ball competitions. I think fielding is one area where every team can improve and that’s one target we’ve got, along with the white-ball bowling.
“Our red-ball bowling’s been pretty decent, with the attack we’ve got, but the white-ball skills seem to be lacking. We’ve got a few guys in the pipeline and there will be assistance arriving.”
Law’s initial assessment of Middlesex’s squad has led him to conclude that they possess the necessary talent to succeed – but may need to develop a stronger mentality when the 2019 campaign begins in April.
“I was a tough player, mentally and verbally, so hopefully an ounce of toughness will rub off in the dressing room,” added the former Bangladesh and West Indies coach.
“The skill levels are great, the work ethic’s fantastic and, if you can add a bit of steel to the mental side of things, I think you’ve got a pretty good package.
“I’ve been given specifics on different areas to improve and white-ball cricket’s one of them. When you look at this squad, the majority of them won the County Championship in Division One two years ago, so the ability’s there.
“For me, to transfer that into the white-ball arena is a mental challenge more than a physical one. I learned very early, playing for Queensland that, if you worry about winning trophies, you never do.”