May 24 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Gareth Berg insists Middlesex’s bowlers will relish the challenge of filling the gap left by Lasith Malinga when their Friends Life t20 campaign gets under way.
Malinga, who had signed up as the Panthers’ second overseas player for the tournament, pulled out because of injury concerns just over a fortnight ago, leaving the club with little opportunity to find a replacement.
Director of cricket Angus Fraser has indicated that Middlesex will pin their faith in the rest of the bowling attack – and Berg believes the loss of the Sri Lankan paceman will actually strengthen the Panthers’ team spirit.
“It’s a huge shame that we’re missing out on probably the best Twenty20 bowler around at the moment, but Angus has said it’s all up to us now – and that’s great to hear,” Berg told london24.com.
“As a bowling unit, we love a bit of pressure on our shoulders. Because we’re bowling well at the moment, we have to hone in on those skills again for a change of format and I’m sure everyone will shine.
“Without Malinga, it definitely gives us the extra option to keep another one of our bowlers in there, which is great. There’s nothing worse than being dropped in the t20 when you want to show off your skills, so this gives us all an opportunity.
“We’re on a high, we’re playing a good brand of cricket at the moment and we’re all fit and fighting for those spots, which is healthy for the team.”
Middlesex start off with their regular t20 curtain-raiser on Thursday night, a London derby against Surrey Lions at Lord’s from 6.15pm, and then host Sussex Sharks at the same venue on Sunday (2.30pm).
And Berg is particularly anxious to be involved this time after missing the whole of the Panthers’ disappointing t20 series last summer with a finger injury.
“In the last four years, I’ve only played Twenty20 in two of them, and last year was a massive downer for me, so it’s great to be fit this time and I’m really looking forward to it,” added the 31-year-old.
“It’s a great game to play, to express ourselves. Hopefully there will be some decent crowds in and, who knows, we might create a few upsets this year.
“Surrey haven’t always shown their true colours at times, but with the squad they’ve got – bowlers like Dirk Nannes, who can really pin you back – they should be one of the top teams.
“I also think Nottinghamshire are a very good t20 side and I reckon those are the two to watch, aside from us. Over the last few years, when we’ve played our first game at Lord’s, we’ve often finished with a big loss.
“So if we can start off against Surrey with a good win, that’ll be a real positive. It’s all about momentum in the t20 and we want to try and roll with that momentum.”