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Middlesex season preview

Yet another new coach will look to get settled in at Lord's

Smith: Middlesex captain

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Promotion to the top-flight was always the aim for Middlesex, though they would have perhaps preferred it to be in the County Championship than the Pro40 League.

The biggest upheaval for the county has been off the field rather than on it, with yet another new coach coming in.

Toby Radford is the latest to take charge at Lord's after Richard Pybus quit the post just five months into his contract.

Long-time player and coach John Emburey has also departed, stepping down from his role as director of cricket in February.

Nevertheless, under Ed Smith's leadership the side did make positive strides in 2007 and will be hoping to do the same again this year.

It appears there has been a revolving door installed at the ground to cope with all the ins and outs in the off-season.

Big names

Regulars like Jamie Dalrymple and Ben Hutton have departed, as have promising youngsters Chris Whelan and Chris Wright.

The biggest new arrival has been that of Shaun Udal, the veteran spinner deciding retirement wasn't for him and instead makes a quick return to the county circuit.

Murali Kartik will be the overseas signing from June. Until then it had been hoped Ashley Noffke would stand in but he has now been called up for Australia's tour of the West Indies.

Instead South African Vernon Philander has been snapped up, along with Dirk Nannes - an Aussie left-arm seamer who will count as a Kolpak player due to a Dutch passport.

Perhaps the key factor for Middlesex is not those players who are coming in but those that are already on the staff.

After a winter of carrying drinks and being overlooked by England, Owais Shah will have a point to prove to the selectors, while Andrew Strauss will want to make early runs to show his century in Napier was no flash in the pan.

Big year for: Alan Richardson - The veteran seamer will once again spearhead the seam attack and will be relied upon heavily for wickets, particularly until Kartik arrives. Middlesex will be hoping he can stay fit.

One to watch: Steven Finn - A tall, athletic seamer capable of getting movement through the air and off the pitch, Finn has all the natural ingredients to be a top-class bowler. He should certainly enjoy his work at Lord's.