OLLIE Rayner accepts his wicket-taking heroics last week have seen him ditch the tag of ‘Batting all-rounder.’
German-born Rayner has always insisted he did not want to be known as ‘A batsman who could bowl’ and his career-best 15-118 against London rivals Surrey not only backed up his case to be viewed as a genuine wicket-taking spinner, but confirmed how much the tables have turned for the 27-year-old.
He now has four fifers in 2013 – his first in first-class cricket since his days with boyhood county Sussex back in 2008.
Rayner accepts it has taken a while to establish his credentials, but hopes from now on Middlesex will be regarded as posing a threat with more than just their seam attack and that he has crept onto the homework rota of a few opposition batsmen.
He said: “From my perspective it has taken me a bit of time to bed in at Middlesex, but I now feel massively part of the team and hopefully this is a sign of things to come from me in the future.
“I’ve been working hard at my bowling, but it just hasn’t quite clicked and I’ve had some bad luck as well such as breaking my hand before the Oval game last year and missing out on a pitch which would potentially have improved my stats.
“I hope now teams due to play us will be thinking about my bowling in a way they haven’t before.”
Rayner accepts the Oval wicket was designed for spin bowlers and that winning the toss and batting first gave him the best use of it.
However, he claimed having spent most of the campaign holding up an end to give the quicks a break on seamer friendly pitches, coming across a real ‘Bunsen burner’ (turner) brought with it a huge pressure of expectation.
“There was a realisation of how tailored the wicket was to spinners so the pressure was really on,” he said.
“There was that sense around of ‘You’ve been moaning all year about seamer’s pitches now here’s your chance so go and take some wickets and there was a temptation to try too hard because you have to cash in when a pitch like that comes along.”
Rayner is part of a 14-man squad announced for Middlesex’s final home fixture of the season at Lord’s against Nottinghamshire, but sadly for him there seems little likelihood of anything like last week’s heroics with the game due to be played on a freshly prepared strip.
He joked: “I tried to suggest that if they wanted to produce another Bunsen I’d shown what I could do on one, but it seems they didn’t take the hint.”