Better pitches a ‘double-edged sword’ – Rayner

Ollie Rayner bowling for Middlesex in the County Championship.

Ollie Rayner has called this season’s improved pitches in the County Championship “a double-edged sword” as he starts a season crucial to his own chances of extending a 10-year professional career.

The 30-year-old Middlesex off-spinner took 6-79 against Surrey this week at The Oval to force them to follow-on.

A fourth-day washout, however, denied Middlesex the opportunity to push for victory and they now have five draws from their five Championship matches so far.

They take on Somerset at Lord’s next, starting on Sunday, and Rayner is keen for Middlesex to get a mark in their win column.

He said: “Usually at this stage of the season I’ve not had too much of a bowl, so it’s nice to have got wickets and to be in the game.

“But, from a team perspective, I’d rather us be sitting here with a couple of wins under our belts even if it meant the seamers getting all the wickets.

Rayner has 21 wickets in two Championship matches against Surrey

“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for me. The pitches have improved across the country because of the new regulations offering the away team the chance to bowl first and that brings spinners into play more, but results do seem to be at a premium too now and so that situation needs to be watched.”

Rayner, out of contract at the end of the season, has played in only two of the first five Championship matches but is expecting a lot more bowling now he has shown form with his six-wicket haul against Surrey.

“I’ve been working very hard on my bowling in practice, during pre-season and in the early weeks of the season, and I’ve very much been waiting in the wings,” added Rayner.

“The club asked me for performances this year and hopefully I am going to give them some more.”