County news September 27, 2014

Rogers hopes to finish at Middlesex

ESPNcricinfo staff

Middlesex were able to breathe a sigh of relief after clinging into Division One status, but are now preparing for life without Chris Rogers, their top-order rock, who is likely to miss next season due to international commitments.

However, while the club will need to scour the world for a replacement - no easy task these days - Rogers gave a clear indication that he wanted to see out his first-class days with the county which helped him forge a belated Test career.

Australia have a tour of West Indies next May before travelling to England for the Ashes which will run until late August meaning there is unlikely to be a feasible window for Rogers to play but, speaking after a day spent in various stages of anxiety as his lower order held on at Old Trafford, he reiterated his affinity for Middlesex

"I owe England and county cricket a lot," he said, "I'd like to finish my career here."

At Rogers' age there is always the risk that an international career can end more quickly than a younger player, but he has made four hundreds in 13 Tests since being recalled for the Ashes in England last year and is inked in for Australia's home summer against India.

Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director cricket, admitted the task of replacing Rogers would be a priority in the off-season.

"We've been very lucky we've had Chris for the last four years - he's been magnificent as a player and a captain - but there's a very good chance of him being away next year. We've got to fill that role, which is something that will occupy a lot of our time."

Rogers was comfortably Middlesex's leading run-scorer in the Championship with 1333 at 55.54 although Dawid Malan had a solid season with 1137 at 45.38. Eoin Morgan averaged over 45 from 11 matches, but Sam Robson dipped under 40 after his lean end to the summer.

Rogers referred to a "soft underbelly" being one of Middlesex's problems which could well have been referring to Neil Dexter and Joe Denly who averaged 28.15 and 23.35 respectively with just one hundred between them although Dexter played a role with the ball.

As to how Middlesex were drawn into the relegation tussle after briefly being top following four early wins, Fraser pinpointed an abandoned Championship game against Sussex and their poor white-ball form knocking confidence.

"We didn't play very well in one-day cricket. We weren't appalling, but lost a lot of games - a lot of them narrowly - and it drew real momentum out of the squad," he said. "You suddenly find yourself on the back foot, defending your position all the time, rather than looking to build on things.

"We just got in a bit of a hole, and weren't able to get out of it and win games of cricket. Middlesex's middle order has been questioned a lot of times, but I think we had a period where we didn't bowl as well as we could. The pitches flattened out, and we found it hard to take 20 wickets in a match."

Middlesex will hope that Ravi Patel, the left-arm spinner who had a taste of England Lions this season, continues to develop - although he will need to be given a regular spot in the team, even during early-summer conditions - but they are unlikely to see as much of Steven Finn if his return to England set-up continues to gather pace between now and next April.

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