By Neil Fissler
Paul Weekes has good cause to remember Middlesex winning promotion for the first time because it was his benefit year.
Weekes was an ever-present, scoring 887 runs at 49.27 as well as chipping in with 18 wickets to help Middlesex finish 7.25 points behind champions Essex who chalked up 219 points.
And he says that one of the biggest benefits of playing for Middlesex was their willingness to promote their own home grown talent.
“It was a very young side that season as you can see from that photo although the front row were pretty much the established players in the side.
“The back and middle rows were very much players who were learning their trade, people like Chad Keegan who I think broke into the side that season.
“That season was my benefit year and I think I must be about the only beneficiary who played a full season and didn’t miss any games – hence why I didn’t make any money.
“The trick is to be injured so you can do all your collecting and work on your corporate events in the evenings.
“But, seriously, as you can see, even though we had overseas players we never had the best overseas players, Middlesex has always liked to produce their own players.
“It is very hard to pin down the superstar overseas players. When Stephen Fleming came I think he only had four first-class hundreds to his name.
“The two years that he spent at Middlesex must have put him in good stead because after that he started to put hundreds on the board on a regular basis.”
The overseas players were massive contributors: Sven Koenig scoring 1,000 runs and Ashley Noffke taking 45 wickets while Abdul Razzaq took 26 wickets at 29.11 each and scored 203 of his 364 runs in a single innings against Glamorgan.
“He is one of the smallest men I have ever seen but hit the ball the furthest. He was a bit different. When you batted behind Razzaq you almost walked to the gate with him,” said Weekes.
“It was the worst position ever to bat because he didn’t care who was bowling and he’d try to hit the first ball out of the park.
“You just couldn’t relax batting behind him. When he scored that double hundred I hardly sat down for nearly a whole day but if you batted behind David Nash you knew that he was never going to get out. Along with Ed Joyce it was a solid middle order but Razzaq sort of messed everything up,” he laughed.
BACK ROW (left-right):
Sven Koenig: South African opening batsman. Went into banking and is property team leader for Investec in Cape Town.
Chad Keegan: All-rounder forced to retire from elite cricket through injury at 28. Became cricket pro at Oratory School on the Oxon/Berks border. Played last season for Oxfordshire.
Steve Nikitaras: Born in Australia but played internationally for Greece. Now working as a bowling coach and mentor.
Ed Joyce: Batsman who has played for England and Ireland and is still on the books of Sussex CCC.
John Maunders: An opening batsman is based in Sunbury on Thames where he runs a cricket coaching business Elev8 Cricket.
Michael Brown: Batsman forced to retire through injury and became an investment manager and also the chairman at Burnley CC.
Jason Pooley: A left-handed batsman who was on the Middlesex coaching staff. Lives in Ascot and is working buying and selling real estate.
John Emburey: Former England off-spinner who coached Middlesex. Now working as a freelance coach.
Mike Smith: The former England ODI batsman served Middlesex as scorer until his death from a heart attack in November 2004, aged 62.
Ben Hutton: Batsman. Grandson of Sir Leonard Hutton. Retired at the age of 30 to work in the City of London and is head of fund sales at Argonaut Capital.
Simon Cook: Seamer. Lived in Stockholm but has coached, France, Hong Kong CC and is now head coach of the national side, having previously been bowling coach.
David Alleyne: A wicketkeeper/ batsman. Worked as a cricket development officer for the ECB but is now based in Melbourne, Australia where he runs Future Stars Cricket academy.
Aaron Laraman: An all-rounder who has been the fleet services director at VMS Fleet Management in Stevenage since leaving the first-class game 12 years ago.
Nick Compton: Current England batsman who returned to Middlesex in 2015 for a second spell. Grandson of England great Denis Compton.
Alan Coleman: An all rounder who is still working for Middlesex as head of youth cricket.
Tom Hunt: Fast bowler who went into sales and business development and is currently sales director of TLX Insulation which manufacturers insulation and breather membranes.
Andrew Jones: The Middlesex CCC 2nd XI scorer for nearly 30 years but has now left the club.
Aaron Heard: Now working as a freelance fitness trainer.
Tim Bloomfield: Seamer now based in Guildford, Surrey, where he is operations director for three companies in the support services industry.
Owais Shah: Former England batsman is still playing first-class cricket for Hampshire and has business interests that include property development and a hair restoration clinic.
Phil Tufnell: Spin bowler works for the BBC as a commentator for Test Match Special, a captain on a Question Of Sport and reporter for The One Show.
Andrew Strauss: Opening batsman who captained England to Ashes glory and is the managing director of cricket for the England cricket team.
Angus Fraser: Former England fast bowler has worked in the media but has been back at Middlesex as managing director of cricket and is also an England selector.
Paul Weekes: All-rounder who runs a company that supplies cricket equipment and also coaches at Westminster School as well as running cricket summer camps.
David Nash: Wicketkeeper. Has coached the Maccabi GB cricket team and based in his native Surrey and runs an advertising and a management consultancy near Epsom.
Robin Weston: The batsman son of England rugby international Mike and brother cricketer Philip. A recruitment consultant specialising in e-commerce and digital marketing.
Ashley Noffke: Australian ODI and T20 international all-rounder. Is a bowling coach in his native Queensland.
Jamie Dalrymple: England ODI all-rounder who now lives in a £25m central London house in retirement.
Abdul Razzaq: The Pakistan all-rounder is playing for the Lahore Qalandars.
Jamie Hewitt: Seamer is now cricket professional at Haberdashers Aske School and also runs his own cricket academy in Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Stephen Fleming: New Zealand batting and captaincy great. played 111 Tests and was also brilliant slip catcher.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday April 29 2016