Search

Seamer is confident as Middlesex gear up for T20 Blast double header against Essex and Sussex

07:30 15 May 2014

Toby Roland-Jones (left) celebrates a wicket for Middlesex against Lancashire

Toby Roland-Jones (left) celebrates a wicket for Middlesex against Lancashire

SARAH WILLIAMS

Toby Roland-Jones is optimistic that Middlesex can finally make the breakthrough and reach the knockout stages when the rebranded T20 Blast launches later this week.

The Panthers have failed to progress from their group since they won the Twenty20 Cup in 2008 – but they showed real signs of improvement last season, only narrowly missing out on a quarter-final spot.

And seamer Roland-Jones believes the Lord’s side – who begin their T20 Blast campaign with a ground-breaking double header on Saturday against Essex and Sussex – are well capable of qualifying this time.

“We’ve been threatening for the last few years to really progress and put something together and we certainly feel this year is as good as any,” said the 26-year-old.

“The South group is very strong – we play against a lot of good teams, which is great because, if you want to be progressing, you have to be beating the best sides.

“We’ve got the double header on Saturday and I think I speak for all the lads when I say we’re pretty excited about that. When you come to Lord’s and you’ve got near enough a packed house, there’s no better place to be.”

With the exception of T20 finals day, this weekend will be the first time back-to-back matches have been staged in English cricket, with Essex Eagles the Panthers’ first opponents at 12pm and Sussex Sharks taking to the field at 4pm.

Middlesex will be captained by England international Eoin Morgan, who featured just twice in their T20 campaign last year, and Roland-Jones is hopeful that the inclusion of the experienced left-hander will make a big difference to their prospects of qualification.

“It brings a bit of fresh energy to the side,” said Roland-Jones. “His record in international cricket is outstanding and it adds to our firepower, which has already got us close in the last few years.

“If his addition to the middle order happens to be the final ingredient, that’s great. We’ve certainly got a good battery of seamers and a couple of good spinners to back it up.

“Every year it seems that batsmen are coming up with new ways to score and more powerful shots, but that’s part of what makes the competition so enjoyable.

“It certainly doesn’t mean that fast bowling or death bowling is a dying art, although it might be getting harder – you’ve got to take it on and see it as a bit of a challenge.

“Whatever number batsman comes in has the ability to strike a clean ball and clear the ropes. If you’re missing your yorker or slower ball, you’re going to get punished.”

In previous years, the T20 group matches have been condensed into five or six weeks, but the 2014 schedule is spread over a longer period of time.

As well as return matches with Essex and Sussex, the Panthers also take on Surrey, Hampshire, Kent, Somerset twice and Glamorgan and Gloucestershire once each, with the group stage due to finish on July 25.

“Having T20 mixed in with the County Championship rather than all in a block is a bit new to us,” added Roland-Jones, who was Middlesex’s leading T20 wicket-taker two years ago.

“I suppose the tricky thing will be to balance it with our preparation for the Championship and balance that. They are two very separate entities, the red ball and the white ball, and there might be a bit of rotation.

“Perhaps for batsmen it’s going to be tough to find a rhythm and routine and for bowlers maybe less so – rhythm can be as little as your run-up to the crease, which can transfer a bit more easily.”

Australian all-rounder Dan Christian is due to make his Panthers debut in Saturday’s double header at Lord’s, for which tickets are still available at http://tickets.lords.org/

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

07:11
Mesut Ozil (left) and Alexis Sanchez celebrate at Vicarage Road as Watford's Jose Holebas looks on

OK Arsenal fans, you can come out now…for the time being at least. The dismantling of Watford on Saturday evoked distant, pre-navel gazing memories of how things used to before Arsenal scrutiny became ‘hip’ in the football industry.

Sunday, August 28, 2016
Michel Vorm (left) slides in to tackle Liverpool's Sadio Mane

Reserve goalkeepers can be easily forgotten - just ask Michel Vorm.

Saturday, August 27, 2016
Danny Rose (right) celebrates his leveller at White Hart Lane. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire

Danny Rose cancelled out James Milner’s first-half penalty with a second-half equaliser as Spurs drew 1-1 with Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Here are five talking points.

Friday, August 26, 2016
Gary McCann has played for and managed Hendon in memorable FA Cup ties. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

In the latest of a series of features casting the spotlight on local football fans, David Ballheimer reveals his favourite players and his most memorable matches during his time following Hendon.

Friday, August 26, 2016
Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh

With just a month of the season remaining, Middlesex appear better-placed to become county champions than at any time since their last title 23 years ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) could soon be lining up alongside Tottenham's Victor Wanyama (left) after Spurs made a move to sign the 23-year-old today

Mauricio Pochettino admits he would like to sign a pacy attacking midfielder before the end of the transfer window as Tottenham seek to bring Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha to White Hart Lane.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admits he is frustrated that a host of his players will be departing for international duty again after this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Laura Hirai in action for the Great Britain Under-19 team at the ESF Junior Womens European Softball Championship in Barcelona

Like most 16-year-olds, Laura Hirai’s primary concern today (Thursday) is her GCSE results. But four days after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics, when the baton was passed to Tokyo and a new four-cycle began, the teenager is also dreaming about being involved in the 2020 Games.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The showroom is located in Hayes

After 25 years as a trade-only business, family-run door manufacturers Composite Door Master are set to open their first public showroom in Hayes this weekend.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now