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Richo's ready for summer

PUBLISHED: 14:18 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:14 24 August 2010

LONDON - MAY 12: Alan Richardson of Middlesex in action during the Frizzell County Championship match between Middlesex and Gloucestershire at Lord's on May 12, 2005 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

LONDON - MAY 12: Alan Richardson of Middlesex in action during the Frizzell County Championship match between Middlesex and Gloucestershire at Lord's on May 12, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

2005 Getty Images

By Jack Marsh MIDDLESEX paceman Alan Richardson believes that promotion in the County Championship has to be the county s main aim as they return to action this week. Middlesex get their whites back on today as they head out to Chelmsford to take on Essex

By Jack Marsh

MIDDLESEX paceman Alan Richardson believes that promotion in the County Championship has to be the county's main aim as they return to action this week.

Middlesex get their whites back on today as they head out to Chelmsford to take on Essex in the first of three warm-up games before their first County Championship match on April 16.

And Richardson told the Times on the eve of the season: "We will go into every competition with the intention of winning it, however gaining promotion in the championship is the main aim.

"We finished third last season, and struggled to turn draws into victories. That's what we need to change."

After the match at Chelmsford, Middlesex will play Surrey at The Oval, in another two day game before heading up the M40 to take on Oxford UCCE on April 12 to complete their pre-season preparations before they kick off their Division Two campaign away to Leicestershire four days later.

The Lord's squad have just returned from a team-building week in Vale Do Lobo, Portugal, where they worked on their strength and fitness, with traditional fielding drills coming alongside orienteering and mountain biking.

Since returning to England, though, the side have found it hard to get much outdoor practice due to the typically dreadful early-season weather, and Richardson said that the players were looking forward to getting some time in the middle in the upcoming practice fixtures.

And the seamer feels that the entire squad is looking good, but that some players in particular are coming into good form at the right time.

"Ed Joyce has had some rest this winter after a pretty busy last two years, and is looking in great touch," said Richardson.

"Youngster Danny Evans [who played club cricket for Brondesbury last season] is also a great prospect. He'll be pushing for a regular first team place all season."

It will also be a big season for another Brondesbury youngster - batsman Billy Godleman, whose talent is evident and who performed excellently in the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia during the winter.

Some new faces have also appeared this season, and although South African Friedel de Wet is still playing overseas, old hand Shaun Udal has brought with him many excellent attributes.

His role will be to try and cover for the loss of Jamie Dalrymple, but he has already impressed at Middlesex with his attitude and fitness, despite being one of the more 'senior' players on the county circuit.

"We are convinced that we have a good side and can succeed this year," Richardson added.

"If we can build on last year's success we should certainly be looking for promotion to the top division of the County Champion-ship, and hopefully this will be joined by some success in other forms of the game by the end of the summer.

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