‘You watching this lad?’ – Fraser reveals how Middlesex signing impressed ex-England skipper

Angus Fraser

Angus Fraser was sat in the president’s box at Lord’s, keeping a very close eye on last September’s Royal London One-Day Cup final, when his phone beeped.

A text had come through from his former England captain Michael Atherton – and both liked what they saw.

On the pitch, James Fuller was celebrating removing both Surrey openers – Jason Roy and Steven Davies – as his Gloucestershire side set about defending a total of 220.

Fraser, Middlesex’s director of cricket, was already considering signing Fuller, one of the tournament’s leading wicket-takers, to improve his side’s white-ball fortunes – and the message from Atherton simply endorsed his view.

Fraser told West London Sport: “I watched him in the final from the president’s box, so I was side-on, watched him come to the crease with his action and thought ‘this looks really good’.

“Athers texted me to say ‘are you watching this lad bowl?’. It was just a nice, easy good-pace bowling.

Middlesex Press Day 2016

“I said ‘yeah, we’re interested in him’. There’s a lot there and a lot to still get out of him as well.”

Fuller took 2-34 from 10 overs in the final, which convinced Fraser the 26-year-old could handle pressurised situations at the home of cricket – and the move was confirmed 11 days later.

“To get it right in a big final is a good sign,” Fraser said. “You’ve coped with the occasion, you’ve coped with the pressures and you’ve kept your game together. 

“I’ve been aware of James for a little while. I watched him while I was doing my [England] selector’s job on a couple of occasions, and then obviously he produced what he produced in the final against Surrey.”

A far cry from a packed house at Lord’s, Fuller has so far had to settle for second XI cricket at places like Radlett and Port Talbot, having been overlooked for the first six Championship games.

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But he is likely to make his Middlesex debut on Friday when they begin their T20 Blast campaign against Hampshire at Uxbridge – where Fuller took four wickets in two 20-over matches against Kent’s second XI last week.

The club’s most high-profile arrival, former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, does not join up with the team until his interest in the Indian Premier League ends this weekend.

But Fraser believes he and Fuller can play their part in reviving the club’s poor T20 fortunes.

He added: “In Brendan, you’ve got someone who can not just perform on the field, but our younger players will be able to see how a world-class cricketer works.

“That, combined with some match-winning innings, I think will provide everybody with quite a bit of enjoyment.”