Wakely gets captaincy backing from his old neighbour

Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely
Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely

The appointment of Alex Wakely as Northamptonshire captain has received the backing of one player heading out of the club.

The 25-year-old, who led the Steelbacks to Twenty20 success in 2013, will take over from Stephen Peters and skipper the side in County Championship cricket as well next season.

It is part of the drive at Wantage Road to make the side younger and more dynamic with one-day cricket being more of a priority.

One of the people to suffer the consequences of that change in outlook is all-rounder James Middlebrook.

The 37-year-old, who was the leading run scorer for the County in first-class cricket this season, is coming to the end of his current contract and has not been offered a new deal.

And despite feeling slightly aggrieved at his departure, Middlebrook is certain Wakely can do a good job for the club - even if he does have a slight reservation.

“When you look at the squad the club will have then he is most definitely the man to do it,” he said.

“I sat next to him in the dressing-room so I’ve spent a lot of time talking to him over the years.

“He has got an older head on young shoulders and knows the game very well.

“Hopefully he will do a good job.

“My only concern is that he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.

“He has been missing for a year with a horrible leg injury and he will be coming back to do all three forms of the game.

“He will get pressure from elsewhere so I hope it doesn’t become too much having been out for so long with injury.”

On a personal note, Middlebrook says he will miss the men he has spent the last five years alongside at the County Ground when he takes the next step in his career.

However, he insists he does want to keep playing for a bit longer.

“There is a strong bond between the lads in the dressing-room and I will miss that camaraderie,” he explained.

“We’re a very close-knit group. There are no cliques.

“We all socialise together and are good friends away from the cricket.

“I’ll miss that.

“It would be nice to keep playing and I certainly feel I’ve got another couple of years left in me.

“I hope so anyway.

“I’ve had one of my best seasons with bat and ball.

“I’ve batted in just about every position in this side, have done my bowling and captained the side when called on.

“For those reasons I think there is life left in me.

“I look at Glen Chapple, who is 40, at Lancashire and he was one of the best bowlers I faced this season.

“I really don’t think it is about age – you play someone if they are good enough.”