Middlesex snap up West Indies coach Stuart Law ahead of 2019 campaign

Will Macpherson
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Middlesex have announced that Stuart Law will leave his post in charge of the West Indies to take over as the county’s Head Coach in January ahead of the 2019 season.

Former Australia batsman Law has signed a four-year contract and will take charge in all three formats, meaning Daniel Vettori has been relieved of his duties as T20 coach two disappointing years into a three-year deal.

Richard Scott had been in charge of Championship and One-Day Cricket until July, when poor performances in Division Two of the Championship – following relegation last year – led to him being fired. Middlesex have suffered some fall, given they won the title in 2016. They will be in Division Two again next year.

Richard Johnson took temporary charge and was one of the names in the frame to replace Scott permanently, alongside three members of the England management hierarchy.

Former Middlesex and Ireland batsman Ed Joyce is in the frame to replace batting coach Dave Houghton, who is leaving for Derbyshire.

Andy Flower pulled out of the running early, but Paul Farbrace, England’s assistant coach, and Mark Ramprakash, England’s batting coach, were contenders for the post.

Middlesex would very much like Johnson to remain at the club as assistant coach under Law. Under Johnson’s guidance, the performances of a squad that is largely the same – if two years further down the line – as the one that won the Championship have improved, but not enough to win promotion to Division One. Sound recruitment will be required by Law for the 2019 season.

Like Surrey coach Michael di Venuto, 49-year-old Law is one of a generation of Australian batsmen who made hay in both Sheffield Shield and county cricket without receiving the opportunities at international level their output deserved.

Law played for Essex, Lancashire and Derbyshire across 14 consecutive seasons and, despite scoring 79 first-class centuries, played just one Test (scoring 54 not out in his only innings against Sri Lanka in 1995) and 54 ODIs.

He transitioned from playing to coaching and has worked with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Queensland, as well as West Indies, where he has been coach since January 2017.

Law was known for being an uncompromising character, who will no doubt shake things up at Middlesex. Angus Fraser, the Director of Cricket, hopes as much, saying: “he will provide a fresh voice and a fresh vision to inspire our players, and drive them towards our twin goals of promotion back to Division One of the county championship and limited overs success.

"It is a great privilege to be asked to coach Middlesex and to accept one of the plum jobs in world cricket,” said Law.

"I have very much enjoyed my time with the West Indies and wish the staff and players every success.

"There is never a good time to leave but the opportunity to work with Middlesex for 4 years at the home of cricket was too good to decline.”

Chief Executive Richard Goatley, who was part of a three-strong recruitment panel which also included Fraser, said: "We are delighted that Stuart has agreed to lead our talented young squad into the future.

"His enthusiasm, experience, cricket knowledge and proven track record clearly set him apart as the outstanding candidate in what was an extremely strong field of applicants.”

The case of Vettori is interesting. He was brought in ahead of last year’s T20 Blast in a bid to improve Middlesex’s fortunes in that competition, which have been poor since they won in 2008. Under his rule they twice failed to qualify from the South Group, and he also recently lost his job at Virat Kohli’s IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Middlesex had been expected to retain him.

"I would also like to thank Daniel Vettori for his time and commitment to Middlesex as T20 coach,” said Fraser.

"During the two spells Daniel had with us, he made a really positive impression on everyone at the Club and we are grateful that he has been so understanding that the arrival of a new coach means that his specialist role will not be required next year.”