Ireland confirms Middlesex move

Anthony Ireland prospered on a good day for Gloucestershire's bowlers PA Photos

Anthony Ireland's move from Gloucestershire to Middlesex has been confirmed with the pace bowler signing a two-year contract at Lord's. Ireland impressed with 36 wickets at 21.77 in Division Two of the County Championship last season and becomes the third major signing by Middlesex following the acquisition of Chris Rogers and Corey Collymore

There is also continued speculation that William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, will leave to join Surrey and the loss of key players compounds Gloucestershire's problems after they failed to secure promotion to Division One. Already paceman Steve Kirby has signed for Somerset while Gemaal Hussain, who was the highest wicket-taker in Division Two with 63 scalps, has refused to sign a new contract and has attracted interest from a host of Division One clubs.

"I am delighted Anthony has chosen to join Middlesex where he will add strength, variety and quality to our fast bowling resources," Angus Fraser, Middlesex's managing director of cricket, said. "I have always been impressed with Anthony, not just as a cricketer but as a person too.

"Anthony is a wholehearted cricketer who gives you everything he has in each match. He is fit, strong, committed and enthusiastic and works extremely hard at his game. He possesses the values I want to see in a person and I expect each member of Middlesex's playing staff to show such characteristics.

Ireland, meanwhile, is looking forward to the move but leaves with fond memories of his time with Gloucestershire. "I met with Angus Fraser and was impressed with what he had to say and his vision for the club moving forward," he said. "It is a fantastic challenge for me at this stage of my career and I am really looking forward to playing regularly at Lord's and helping Middlesex push for honours.

"I would like to thank Gloucestershire for the role they have played in my career. I have happy memories of playing for the club and have many good friends there. I wish them all the best for the future."

Gloucestershire are worried that they may lose their status as a venue for international cricket and are directing their squeezed financial resources to develop the County Ground rather than the playing squad.