Tom Smith has revealed the lengths to which his new Middlesex boss went before signing him.

Middlesex’s director of cricket Angus Fraser slipped un-noticed into the Saffrons to watch Smith in action for Eastbourne in the Sussex League.

The former England seamer was obviously impressed with what he saw and this week signed the 22-year-old left-arm spinner on a three-year deal after Sussex agreed to release him from his contract.

Smith said: “I wasn’t aware of it when he came to Eastbourne and he was trying to stay out of the way but someone spotted him. I didn’t think much of it at the time but Gus obviously did his homework rather than just talking to people about me which is impressive.”

Smith’s departure from Hove has been inevitable since the middle of last season. Starved of first-team opportunities in both formats, a loan move to Worcestershire fell through but he then joined Surrey and finished the season on a high with a match-winning 65 in a Pro40 victory over Leicestershire on the final day of the season.

Both counties were keen to sign him but the prospect of bowling with Middlesex’s experienced skipper Shaun Udal and eventually succeeding him as No.1 spinner proved too big an opportunity to turn down.

He said: “I think Udal could be quite a good mentor for me. He won’t go on forever so eventually I could be senior spinner.

“I really enjoyed my loan spell with Surrey but they have so many spinners and have just signed Gareth Batty so that wasn’t really an option. Also, Middlesex have given me a three-year contract so that gives me time to settle in and shows they are backing me.”

Smith has no regrets about moving on although it will be a wrench to leave a tightly-knit dressing room. He made his one-day debut in 2006 and was expected to develop as a bowling all-rounder. But Rory Hamilton-Brown’s emergence restricted him to just a single List A game this season and he was not included in the Championship team after making a modest contribution on his debut against Lancashire in the opening game of last season.

He admitted: “I didn’t make my mark against Lancashire and probably didn’t deserve another game. It was my debut and I was nervous and I was never going to bowl a lot. If I’d scored a few more runs I might have kept my place but you need to take your opportunities in cricket and I didn’t.

“It is three years since I made my debut and I haven’t really shown what I can do. But I have learned so much at Sussex from the likes of Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq and now I feel it’s time I played regularly.

“(Sussex coach) Mark Robinson has been brilliant since I told him halfway through the season that I wanted to look at my options. He has been very supportive and I will keep in touch with the lads but I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”

That includes moving to London, a place he has seldom visited apart from cricket, after he links up with the England performance squad for two five-day camps at Loughborough followed by a three-week trip to South Africa in January.

He added: “It’s an exciting time. It’s great to be involved at England level and then I join Middlesex. I’ll be playing at Lord’s and hopefully I can learn from the likes of Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah.”