It’s been an amazing year for me already, but it’s going to go to another level if I’m lucky enough to be selected in the Nottinghamshire side for the Twenty20 finals day this weekend.
The big day at the Rose Bowl has been at the back of our minds since we qualified, and we’ve been thinking about it for much longer than that because we set our sights on it back in April when we were preparing for the season. Now it’s a reality.
We had another boost at the weekend when England announced that Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad could play for us in the finals. I think a lot of people would pick them in a world Twenty20 team, so they are going to give us an even better chance of lifting that trophy – although it’s going to be tough on the two guys who miss out as a result.
We’re going to need as many big guns as possible with a semi-final draw against Somerset, which you’d probably say was the toughest we could have got. Craig Kieswetter is the guy I know best in their team after he came out for a week on the category C ECB training camp in the winter in Pretoria. We got on reasonably well, and he’s a very dangerous player – one of plenty in the Somerset team. Alfonso Thomas has been on fire this year, Murali Kartik is a top player, Kieron Pollard is explosive and of course there’s Marcus Trescothick at the top of the order.
But if we can execute our skills and play as we have all tournament, we can beat them. Dirk Nannes has been a massive signing for us this year. The club knew what they were doing when they went for him, because he’s got such a good record in Twenty20 whether in Australia, India or previously here in England with Middlesex. He’s got so much experience and he has been a big influence on our dressing room, especially in the tight games.
Throw in David Hussey, our T20 captain who comes into the finals in pretty good form after the double-century he scored at Headingley last week – that was different gravy – and we’ve got the ability to beat anyone.
For me it’s all a bit of a dream playing in a side with so many great players and going for all three domestic trophies at such an early stage of my career.
I made my debut in 2008 and had a reasonable amount of experience last year, but after having to wait a couple of weeks for my chance at the start of this summer – which I’ve admitted before was my own fault – I’ve had a good run in the team in all forms of the game.
If you’d told me a few years ago that I would be opening the batting regularly in first-class cricket it would have been a bit of a shock. Growing up I had always been a bowler who came in low down the order and thrashed it about a bit. Maybe that’s why Twenty20 seems to have suited me!
To be honest I think the only reason I’m opening at Notts is because we’ve got such a strong and established middle-order, with Mark Wagh, Samit Patel, David Hussey and Ali Brown. In the long run I’d probably expect to bat at three or four – Mark Wagh is retiring midway through next season and our coach Mick Newell has already talked to me about possibly taking that number three role.
Whatever happens this weekend at the Rose Bowl, next week the focus will be back on the County Championship. It can be tricky going from one to the other, but there’s no choice other than just getting on with it.
Even at this late stage of the season there are still quite a few counties in with a shout. We saw for ourselves down at Taunton the other week how good Somerset can be, and Lancashire and Yorkshire are also in the running. Add the fact that everyone has to play each other – we’ve still got Lancashire at Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, for example – and there could be a lot of twists and turns yet. It’s a good thing to be involved in.