North Middlesex duo delighted to get county contracts
- Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo
North Middlesex duo Luke Hollman and Joe Cracknell had contrasting tales with regards to their signing for Middlesex for the 2020 season.
The pair were speaking on the Middlesex League podcast, having helped their club to the Premier Division title in 2019 and subsequently landed deals with the county.
And they revealed different stories to how it came about, with England under-19 international Hollman saying: “Last season was my last in the academy, so it was quite nerve-wracking. I’d either sign or probably won’t get anything.
“The whole of last season was pretty nerve-wracking, whether it was North Middlesex or twos. It went fairly well thankfully.
“I did okay in the twos towards the back-end of the season and was supposed to have a meeting with the academy director and Angus Fraser about the back-end of September.
“But I got called up for the Championship game against Lancashire away. I was so nervous, constantly guessing am I going to get it or not.
“I didn’t play, but to get called up and almost play gave a bit of clarity and made me realise I would be getting it. Then eventually I had a meeting and got told I was getting a contract.”
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Cracknell appeared far more relaxed when relaying his own tale, adding: “I went to New Zealand and spent the winter in Auckland. I came back knowing I was going to play a full season in the twos on a retainer basis.
“The understanding was if I perform well something could be on the cards, but then I was always going off to university, so I wasn’t sure how that was going to affect everything.
“I finished the season not fully knowing, then got a phone call when I was up in Durham from Gus giving me the good news. When I got back at Christmas all the stuff got sorted out and paperwork got signed.”
Cracknell had clearly made a good impression in the middle of the summer when making his first-class debut in a tour match against Ireland, before their historic Test against England at Lord’s.
Having gone into bat with Middlesex in trouble at 71-5, he proceeded to score an unbeaten 105 off 128 balls, but was modest in his appraisal of the match.
“It was one of those situations that was win-win, because realistically, however tough it is, you’re there to facilitate their practice and preparation for the biggest game in theri cricketing history the week after,” he added.
“I almost viewed it as a good test of where I was both in terms of my cricket and the mental side of proceedings.
“It was a surreal experience in terms of being there and actually realising these blokes are turning up to play England next week and not letting that affect the way I batted.
“It was another opportunity to see how I was giong and where my game was at.
“Luke was at the other end when I was facing (Boyd) Rankin. Two weeks previously I’d split open the top of my finger and I got hit on the glove and resplit it.
“I had to retire hurt and came back out to bat again, which he didn’t take too kindly to and started bowling around the wicket.
“Luke was at the other end, sitting on his bat and laughing away as Rankin was slamming them down, coming through my throat.
“He was pretty keen to drop and run, which he isn’t usually keen on, unless it’s the fifth ball of the over!”
*With the ECB delaying the start of the professional season until July 1 at the earliest, the Middlesex League this week announced a further three rounds of matches would be cancelled due to public health issues.
A statement on their Twitter page said: “We are committed to maximising the oppportunity for competitive cricket in 2020 and have many scenarios planned out and can be up and running very quickly.”