‘WE NEED TO CRACK THE 50 OVER FORMAT’
IT’S TIME FOR MIDDLESEX TO PROGRESS IN CONTEST
IT HAS never been more important for Middlesex to crack the game’s 50-over format, according to Toby Roland-Jones.
The tenants of Lord’s begin their latest Royal London Cup campaign tomorrow, at home to Sussex, and have yet to progress from the group stages since the competition started three years ago.
Having been shunted from the back end of the season to the front, the cup is now the first piece of silverware on offer.
For quick bowler Roland-Jones it becomes a competition with an importance beyond itself, offering the opportunity to gain that most precious of commodities – momentum – for the rest of the campaign.
And having drawn the first two games of their County Championship defence – the second after being thwarted by the weather on the final day against Essex this week – some impetus is needed.
“This year we have a chance to use the Royal London as a bit of a launching pad for the rest of the season,” said Roland-Jones.
“It’s an exciting competition for us because we feel there is still a good amount of untapped poten- tial in the squad when it comes to the one-day game.
“If we can play some good cricket it could help us in the long run across all formats, in terms of giving a lot of confidence.”
Last year was the closest Middlesex have come to that elusive knockout-stage spot, rain-affected defeat at the hands of London rivals Surrey in the final group game seeing them miss out once more.
Back then, the ECB saw fit to intermingle the competition with T20 Blast fixtures but this time counties can eat, drink and sleep the 50-over format with eight qualifying games over the next three weeks. For a man like Roland-Jones, a pivotal figure for Middlesex in all three forms of the game, the opportunity to be single-minded is a useful tweak to the schedule.
“With it all being in a block, it gives us a month of honing the craft and building upon form in the format,” he added. “It should help a lot of us in terms of narrowing the focus a little bit.”
In-form batsman Stevie Eskinazi will miss the first week or so of the competition after injuring a finger against Essex but pace-man Harry Podmore is in the mix for selection after returning from his loan spell with Glamorgan.
Middlesex quick bowler Toby Roland-Jones Steve Porter WL161785