Durham keen to build on flying start in T20

SKIPPER ... Mark Stoneman.
SKIPPER ... Mark Stoneman.

MARK Stoneman says his side can use their four-day “momentum” to propel them to a fast start in the NatWest T20 Blast.

This season’s tournament gets underway tomorrow evening when Durham Jets take on Northamptonshire Steelbacks at the Emirates Durham ICG (5.30pm start).

Especially on the back of this fantastic four-day win, hopefully we’ll carry on our momentum into the new format now.

Mark Stoneman

The Jets will be led again by Stoneman, who crowned his first year as limited-overs skipper with the Royal London One-Day Cup last September.

However, success in the shortest form of the game has been harder to achieve since the competition’s inception in 2003.

Durham are yet to win a T20 title, but Stoneman is confident that his side can mount a serious challenge this summer, particularly after a strong start to the Championship campaign.

A six-wicket victory over Nottinghamshire sealed a third win in four games to leave Durham second in the Division One table.

“Especially on the back of this fantastic four-day win, hopefully we’ll carry on our momentum into the new format now.” said the 27-year-old.

“Fingers crossed the weather holds and we get a good crowd for the opener of the T20 Blast.

“Last year we were very much stop-start with one good performance and then two pretty poor ones.

“So this year it’s a case of getting off to a good start, looking to maintain that and keep winning games.”

A T20 fixture with Northants will bring back fond memories of a record-breaking encounter last July.

Set 196 to win, the Jets were in trouble on 73-5 when Calum MacLeod was joined at the crease by John Hastings.

The big Australian lit up the match with an incredible display of hitting, clearing the boundary rope eight times on his way to a career-best 80 from 26 balls.

Hastings and MacLeod’s partnership of 126 set a new Durham record for any wicket in T20 cricket, and Hastings scored the fastest fifty in the county’s history.

Home supporters will be hoping for a repeat of those fireworks, but the Jets will be tested by a strong Steelbacks side who won the competition two years ago.

Stoneman added: “It was one of the more memorable games, Hasto hitting the ball out of the ground at will really – it was quite a phenomenal exhibition of ball-striking.

“It would be nice if we didn’t leave him as much work to do this year though” added Stoneman.

“They’ve got a very strong one-day side so it’ll be a good contest and hopefully we can come out on top.

“Confidence is really high. We had a disappointing result at Middlesex but within the group we’re pretty strong and we know that with the hard work and dedication that there is here, we can turn things around, and thankfully the lads proved that this week.”