Alt text here



When it was announced earlier this month that Nic Pothas would be joining Middlesex as Stuart Law’s right-hand man, it signalled a reunion for the pair of coaches.

They began their working partnership in the West Indies last year, when Pothas joined up to support head honcho Law as a fielding coach. While the duo’s time together lasted a matter of months – before Law left to join Middlesex as head coach – the seeds had been sown for the prospect of future collaboration.

“When Stu moved across here, I was obviously still at the West Indies [as interim head coach], and once I finished there, Stu spoke to me and said he was looking for an assistant to work alongside. We’re very much aligned in the way we go about our work.

“We always had on-going conversations, even when we were at the West Indies, that it would be great to work with another wherever it might be. We were under no illusion that when you work in countries where, I think it’s fair to say, things aren’t politically unstable, longevity isn’t part of your goal. It was a total no-brainer to work alongside Stu – I’ve always loved working alongside him.”

Pothas’ comments about working in the political hot-bed that is West Indies cricket could not be more timely. Just days after we speak, Dave Cameron, the controversial president of Cricket West Indies is ousted and replaced by Ricky Skerritt.

He’s no stranger to volatile environments. Much like Law, the former South Africa wicketkeeper is a coach of some international pedigree; prior to his reign with West Indies, he enjoyed a coaching stint with Sri Lanka. Like his time with the Caribbean side, he began as a fielding coach before being thrust into the interim head coach position, adding him to the long list of names that have taken up the reigns of Sri Lankan cricket over the last few years.

A move to Middlesex reflects a desire for stability, and Pothas is honest about the allure of moving away from the international game, particularly due to the fact his family is based in Southampton, a place he has called home since 2002, when he began a near decade-long playing stint with Hampshire.

“When you get on the international scene, that time and travel away from home can be very, very difficult. You live a five-star lifestyle and you travel five-star but you get numb to that over a period of time. I don’t know what I’d miss about it to be honest.

“You get home and you’re there for a week, and then you’re off again. That is very tough so the draw of getting back to the UK and being close to the family was a massive factor, as it was for Stuart.”

Pothas’ desire for a return to the county circuit doesn’t mean that his days in the international spotlight were wasted. He speaks in glowing terms of working with West Indies’ current crop of talented youngsters. While hand-picking Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope as two stand-out names, some less-heralded figures are also worthy of a mention.

“They’ve got phenomenal skill in that group. You’ve got the natural flair of Oshane Thomas. You can’t buy bowling at 150 kph; that’s the genetic gift he’s got being the size that he is. Shane Dowrich is going to become one of the best wicketkeeper-batters in the world, in time.”

The pair played vital supporting roles in West Indies’ recent Test series victory and ODI series draw with England, results which Pothas views as the fruits of his and Law’s collective labour, even considering the latter was by then part of the staff at Middlesex.

“That – [plans for the England series] – had been put in place by Stu and I, two series ago. You don’t plan for a series in the pre-series camp. It comes from a lot of time looking at analysis, a lot of time looking at video footage, and that was all prepared a long time ago. We were having discussions in Bangladesh and India about that series.”

Now is the time to draw up plans on how to handle sides on the domestic front, and the pair’s diligence should stand Middlesex in good stead. Pothas is palpably excited for the summer’s action. The goal now is to keep that energy bubbling within the playing camp over the course of the season.

“The hard part about county cricket is keeping things fresh and new and away from that horrible phrase: ‘the grind’. That’s what county cricket can become. But when players are enjoying themselves and seeing success, that grind element goes away and you can’t wait to be playing your next game.”

Despite having been in the role for a matter of weeks, young starlets such as Robbie White and Ethan Bamber have already caught the new assistant coach’s eye. But it’s two more experienced members of Middlesex’s squad that Pothas is eager to see more from this season.

“I firmly believe there’s a lot left to come from John Simpson. I think he’s been an underperformer for a long period of time for the ability that he has and that’s one of the challenges we have as a coaching group: to get John Simpson to the level he has the ability to perform at. I’m pretty confident he’s going to have a big year ahead of him.

“I don’t think Tom Helm really realises how good he could actually be. I still think Tom Helm’s performing at 75 percent of his potential. I think he’s a seriously exciting cricketer.”

While Pothas is now eager to “create international players”, another draw of the Middlesex position is the understanding that when the off-season does come around, he and Law will be allowed to pursue coaching opportunities in various T20 leagues, with their experiences serving to themselves and Middlesex.

“You go to these T20 franchises, you meet other players, and you learn new things. It makes total sense. We’ll be able to bring new ideas, fresh ideas, back. When you get pigeonholed into one environment, you start to think very linearly, and that’s not what you want. You want to have an open mind to things and be able to adapt to change.”

For the immediate future however, Pothas’ focus is firmly on the tasks at hand: getting Middlesex back to Division One of the County Championship and improving the county’s white-ball fortunes.

“I’m certainly not one who looks miles ahead. We’ve got some short-term goals and definite targets we’d like to meet, and at the end of the day we want players to get better and better here, and then go off and play for England. That’s the only focus at the moment.”

Share this post