Middlesex have announced that Shaun Udal will deputise for the injured Ed Smith for the remainder of the season. Ed Joyce has led the side in the absence of Smith for most of the summer, skippering them to their inaugural Twenty20 Cup title in July, but he has held talks with his paymasters to discuss his long-term future at the club.
"It's a huge honour. We have a lot to play for during the remainder of the season, and we will be fully focused on winning our remaining fixtures," Udal told the club's website.
Vinny Codrington, Middlesex's chief executive, added: "In addition to Shaun's appointment, we are pleased to report that Ed Joyce had a meeting with Ian Lovett, the club chairman, and myself, where Ed wished for more time to consider his long-term future, but stated that he is totally committed to helping the club for the remainder of the year. Following the meeting, Ed has our full support."
Middlesex's triumph in the Twenty20 Cup - which also handed them entry into the inaugural Champions League - appeared to mark a watershed in the club's fortunes, but it has masked other problems. They have struggled in the Championship (two wins in 13 matches), where they lurk in the bottom half of Division Two, and are second from bottom in the Pro40.
Joyce's decision to relinquish the captaincy owes much to his wavering form, and it has yet to be confirmed whether he will stay at the club. In addition, Warwickshire's director of cricket, Ashley Giles, has approached Dawid Malan, who has been Middlesex's find of the season. Nick Compton, meanwhile, has been linked to Somerset.
In better news, however, Owais Shah committed his long-term future to Middlesex, while Angus Fraser and Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, are on the short-list for the newly-created position of managing director.
In a statement, the club reiterated that "Toby Radford [the coach] has the full confidence and support of the players and the committee".