Sowter enjoy extra responsibility with Middlesex
PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 May 2019
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Nathan Sowter admits he has revelled in the responsibility of being Middlesex's wicket-taking spearhead during their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
The Australian-born leg-spinner finished the group stage as the competition's leading wicket-taker with 24 scalps.
And the 26-year-old's efforts mean Middlesex will entertain Lancashire in the play-off on Friday - the first time the Seaxes have reached the knockout stages since the competition reverted back to a 50-over tournament.
Sowter believes being given the licence to attack and let loose his naturally combative nature by head coach Stuart Law and captains Dawid Malan and Stevie Eskinazi has been key to his latest leap forward.
"Maybe it's down to the different role I'm playing this year," he said.
"I've been told to be aggressive and I'm bowling a little bit later in the innings, putting teams under pressure by bowling two overs here and three overs there, or longer spells when the team needs it.
"That's been the real difference, the way we're playing cricket and the way I've been captained this year by Dawid and Stevie. They've allowed me to be aggressive and take wickets.
"It suits me, that type of cricket as I get white-line fever some days. I enjoy getting into a battle and really putting the other team under pressure."
Sowter's aggressive approach is a microcosm of Middlesex as a whole. Under Law they have made a conscious switch to a more proactive style which saw them win six games out of eight in qualifying.
Sowter says it was an essential change of direction for a team labelled white-ball also-rans for far too long.
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And although their batting imploded twice while chasing in the games they lost, he believes it has been a price worth paying.
"We have put our hands up and said we haven't been playing great in any form of white-ball cricket in recent years, so we wanted to make a change," he said.
"Sometimes with the bat we haven't had great days and been bowled out for under 200, but then you see the three scores where we got 350-plus. I think the boys have taken on board to be more aggressive and it has paid off a little bit more than even we expected it to.
"We always had high hopes to do well in this competition. Last year we weren't far away, just a few big moments we missed out on. This year we have taken those clutch moments and turned the games in our favour."
Wherever Middlesex's Royal London Cup journey ends, Sowter's next challenge will be to transfer his personal success into red-ball cricket and claim a place in the Specsavers County Championship side where his opportunities have so far been limited.
The perception seems to be he is not as dangerous a bowler when batsmen are not coming after him.
Sowter knows he needs to find a balance between his attacking instincts and the patience to play the long game if he is to make the transition.
"It's about being more consistent and being able to bowl my best ball a lot of the time," he added.
"In the one-day game you can bowl bad balls and get wickets. In the red-ball format you need that consistency.
"But you always want to keep that mentality of looking for wickets, so it's a difficult one. It's something for me to work on and for the coaches to see how they want to go about the red-ball cricket.
"Taking wickets seems to be the way we want to play in all formats now, so hopefully if I do that, I'll be in with a shout of playing."