County news October 5, 2012

Middlesex reluctantly release Crook

ESPNcricinfo staff

Allrounder Steven Crook has rejoined Northamptonshire after Middlesex reluctantly released him midway through his two-year deal.

Crook, 29, believes he will have the chance of more regular first-team cricket, particularly in the Championship, with Northamptonshire where he previously played from 2005 to 2009 after beginning his career at Lancashire.

When he left Northamptonshire he initially followed interests away from cricket but when he indicated a keenness to return he was given a trial by Middlesex before the club signed him on a full-time deal. He was Middlesex's leading wicket-taker in the CB40 last season with 14 scalps in 10 matches, but played just five four-day games where he took 14 wickets at 34 although his final performance brought a career-best 5 for 48, and the club had offered him a contract extension earlier in 2012.

Angus Fraser, Middlesex's managing director of cricket, said: "It goes without saying that we would have liked Steven to stay with Middlesex but the greater opportunities and security of Northamptonshire's offer, along with the new place of work being on his doorstep, understandably made the prospect of playing at Northampton extremely attractive.

"Earlier in the season, and before we were aware of Northamptonshire's interest in Steven, we indicated that we were prepared to extend Steven's contract with Middlesex but no interest was expressed from either he or his representative.

"We could have held on to Steven and kept him to his contract but in the end I felt it would be morally wrong to deprive him of the opportunity made to him. It was clear at our meeting that Steven had set his heart on moving back to Northampton. Steven is a cracking lad. He is selfless and has never given anything but 100% commitment to the club. And because of that you want to do the right thing for him too."

Crook said: "I would like to thank everyone at Middlesex, all the coaching, support and office staff, my team mates and fans of the club for a fantastic couple of years, and for giving me the opportunity to return to cricket after spending 2010 out the game.

"I must also highlight Angus Fraser for showing faith in me and his continued support for my development as a cricketer. My appreciation must also go to Richard Scott, Richard Johnson and Mark O'Neill for the huge impact they have made on my game.

"I'm now really looking forward to the next chapter of my career at Northants and excited about joining a talented group of players and working with David Ripley and the coaching staff to help the club push for honours in all competitions next year."