May 19 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Spinner Tom Smith is hoping the belated arrival of summer may finally give him an opportunity to force his way into Middlesex’s four-day side.
The slow left-armer has yet to feature in a County Championship match this year, with damp conditions persuading the Middlesex management to pin their faith in a seam-dominated attack.
But Smith, who took advantage of last week’s hot, dry conditions to pick up figures of 4-64 in a second XI victory over MCC Young Cricketers at Radlett, believes the recent change in the weather may improve his first-team prospects.
And ideally the 24-year-old would relish a rare chance to link up with his friend and fellow spinner Ollie Rayner in four-day cricket.
“We tended to bowl at different times during the t20 but, when we did bowl together, it went nicely,” Smith told london24.com. “It’d be good to play in a Championship game alongside Ollie.
“We’re good friends, we’ve grown up together and played club cricket together. But don’t forget, Middlesex didn’t even play a spinner at all in three or four of the early games.
“Then Ollie came in almost as a batsman who could bowl a bit. Now his workload will increase as the wickets dry up and hopefully there might be room for two spinners.
“It’s been really strange – I’ve barely played a game of three or four-day cricket because in the first quarter of the season everything was rained off for the second XI, then the t20 came along and we had some tired wickets.
“So it was brilliant to get a long bowl with the sun out. The way the schedule’s worked out I’ve hardly bowled with the red ball – predominantly it’s been the white ball and that’s two different styles of bowling.
“At the moment, my focus is trying to put in some steady performances with the red ball and hopefully push for a first-team spot. The wickets will probably dictate whether or not I get a chance.”
Despite Smith’s absence from County Championship cricket, he did play in the majority of the Panthers’ t20 games and took more wickets than any other bowlers bar Toby Roland-Jones and Gareth Berg.
The former Sussex man has also been a regular in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition, where the Panthers remain in the running to qualify for the semi-finals.
Lancashire Lightning, who have games in hand on all their rivals, are now favourites to top Group A, having continued to gain momentum since their stop-start, rain-affected home win over Middlesex last month.
The absence of star batsman Eoin Morgan, who missed his train to Manchester, coupled with bad weather and losing a critical toss, all contributed to what could ultimately prove a costly defeat for the Panthers.
“That Lancashire game was so frustrating, thinking about it more and more,” Smith reflected. “Everything just snowballed from the weather to the Morgan situation, to being on and off and the overs changing.
“It was really tough. But it’s an exciting time at the moment in the 40-over squad – we’ve got a good formula and we’re beating very good sides.
“If we win those last two games, the pressure’s on the other sides to knock us off – and, if we don’t quite make the semi-finals, we’ll be so much stronger for it next year.
“I don’t think we’ve quite cracked it in Twenty20, but it’s very similar to Pro40 and you’d like to think we’ll take some confidence from these last few games into next year.”
Middlesex play their penultimate Group A match on Sunday when they face Worcestershire Royals at Uxbridge, starting at 1.45pm.