'Make mine a double promo' - Dalrymple
AFTER a winter of discontent on tour with England, Jamie Dalrymple is delighted to be back at home in Middlesex where victories are proving easier to come by. The 26-year-old has donned his county jersey seven times since being involved in
By Jonny Weeks
AFTER a winter of discontent on tour with England, Jamie Dalrymple is delighted to be back at home in Middlesex where victories are proving easier to come by.
The 26-year-old has donned his county jersey seven times since being involved in a topsy-turvy CB Triangular Series and a cringe-worthy World Cup - and is now looking ahead to an all-conquering season at Lord's.
His intentions are simple; he wants Middlesex to earn double promotion at the first attempt, thereby dissolving traumatic memories of last season when the club plunged from the top flight in both County Championship and one-day cricket.
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"It's great to be back at head quarters and starting off with some good wins," said the Nairobi-born right-hander.
"Our goals this season are fairly clear - to get back to where we were last year.
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"The promotions are ambitions; I don't think they are necessities. But all the players here are ambitious and they are keen to be back in division one playing for the title again.
"We want to be playing for titles next year rather than having to wait for another year.
"As for me personally, my hope and intention is to play for Middlesex throughout the season."
The collective determination of Dalrymple and his colleagues to bring the glory days back to Middlesex has been evident from performances and, more importantly, results thus far.
The County Championship division two season began with a ludicrously high-scoring draw with Somerset in which both side broke 800 runs, and that was followed by a 154-run victory over Northamptonshire.
Middlesex have gone on to make it five Championship matches without defeat, including last week's demolition of Glamorgan by an innings.
Dalrymple marked his return to the side with 68 not out off 68 balls in a Friends Provident Trophy one-day triumph over Glamorgan in April - a match which was won on the final ball.
Though in his last four matches in all competitions he has disappointed at the crease with scores of eight, two, four, four (not out) and a duck, and has plundered just three wickets when bowling off-spin.
"You always have to get back into playing games (after being on international duty)," he admits.
"There's always a slight ring-rustiness. But I feel good and I felt in decent form over winter."
Dalrymple was on the verge of making his Test match debut in Sydney in January - though looking back he can count himself lucky he wasn't to blame for the ignominy of the Ashes whitewash.
From there, he became a first-choice fixture of the CB Triangular Series down under and stunned the crowd at Sydney Cricket Ground with a one-handed catch at backward point to remove Australia's Shane Watson in the final.
Dalrymple made just three forgettable performances in a forgettable World Cup.
Nevertheless, he says of the past five months: "There are few experiences that are all bad.
"Something like a World Cup is fantastic to see and be a part of. You hope to make use of that experience.
"You can learn in many ways on a trip like that about yourself, and you get to watch high class players and see them going about their business, so you get to pick little bits off them too.
"I was delighted to be able to contribute to a win in the CB Series - that was a big high - and it was good to see a bit of the Test cricket arena even though I was cover and didn't get a game.
"Obviously the World Cup was disappointing, but it's something we need to learn from so that we have a stronger showing in four years.
"I know a lot was said in the papers about its organisation and its length, but I can't say I had any complaints myself," he added.
The next time that he is called to arms for England, Dalrymple could well be joined by another of his county colleagues besides the usual suspects of Ed Joyce and Andrew Strauss.
He believes Owais Shah should play a big part in England's future, especially in view of his productive start to the season for Middlesex.
"Owais is a very fine player and undoubtedly has the quality to play for England," he said.
"If you look at his county cricket record in recent years it's superb. I would love to see him playing for England again.
"As for his chances, well, they would be a lot better if I was picking the team, but I don't!