DURHAM star Scott Borthwick is targeting a big run to T20 finals day this season.
The NatWest T20 Blast gets under way tonight when Durham Jets take on Northamptonshire Steelbacks at the Emirates Durham ICG (5.30pm start).
A lot of people enjoy watching Twenty20, and it’s always nice to play in front of big crowds and do well.
Durham are yet to win a T20 title, but Borthwick believes the squad is packed with players who can make a concerted challenge.
“We’ll be going in it to win it, as we always do, so hopefully we can improve on what we did last year,” he said.
“We struggled a bit last year and didn’t quite qualify, but we know we’ve got the skills and the talent to get us through.
“We’re all looking forward to it. A lot of people enjoy watching Twenty20, and it’s always nice to play in front of big crowds and do well.
“Finals day is a fantastic day as well – so it would be awesome to get there this season.”
T20 around the world has developed quickly with a lat of razzamatazz, with the Big Bash in Australia taking the event on further after the inception of the Indian Premier League.
“The Big Bash was fantastic to watch,” said Borthwick. “Hopefully we can get that sort of atmosphere here and get the crowds in.”
Fellow Wearsider Phil Mustard will be looking to kick-start his season – out of form so far – in the shortest form of the game, with his explosive style well suited to the T20 game.
And he, too, is looking forward to the change in atmosphere from the county championship.
“The Big Bash was very good,” he said.
“The commentary, the cricket and everything about it was very good. I’m sure there will be good crowds. The youngsters love it.
“It’s all about innovating and trying to do something, but first and foremost, the players have to perform.
“If the players perform, we will probably make their (administrators) jobs a bit easier.”
Captain Mark Stoneman admitted: “Our history in the T20 is poor, so we are hoping for better performances. We all enjoy playing in front of big crowds and when the floodlights are up, later in the tournament, it will add to the spectacle.
“Gareth Breese was a reliable one-day performer, so now he’s no longer with us it gives Ryan Pringle a chance to perform. But we don’t want to push him too quickly.”
Pringle, a burly off-spinning all-rounder also capable of big hitting, is one of five from Sunderland in the squad, along with Borthwick, Mustard, Chris Rushworth and Paul Coughlin.
Stoneman, who will open the batting with Mustard, added: “We will play two spinners and we also have some slow to medium options with Paul Collingwood and Keaton Jennings.
“Gordon Muchall has been batting well in the second team and is a proven one-day player, so he will come in.”
Hastings, the top wicket-taker in Australia’s recent Big Bash, opted out of the IPL auction to spend the whole season with Durham and is expected to be a key performer.
Tonight’s T20 squads
DURHAM (from): Stoneman, Mustard, MacLeod, Collingwood, Muchall, Borthwick, Jennings, Hastings, Pringle, Wood, Rushworth, Coughlin.
NORTHANTS (from): Duckett, Stone, Afridi, Crook, Wakely, Willey, Levi, White, Rossington, Keogh, Kleinveldt, Cobb, Chambers, Zaib