It's mid-July and Middlesex are halfway through the season, so Middlesex Women's Content Co-ordinator Georgia Isaac, took the opportunity to chat with their captains, one-day skipper Naomi Dattani and T20 skipper Natasha Miles, in the Harris Garden at Lord's.
You were both given the captaincy roles with just a few weeks notice; how did you find this a baptism by fire?
Natasha: I wouldn't say baptism by fire, I was lucky enough to have done a couple of T20 stints a few years ago. But it was a new squad and it was tough to come in straight away with two weeks' notice and not having had the winter to think about things. I did have a bit more time than Naomi though and our T20 fixtures didn't start till a couple of months later [than the one-day matches].
Naomi: It took me by surprise a little bit. I literally came back from Australia and then a week later Sanjay [Middlesex Women's coach] called me and said, Izzy [Isabelle Westbury], is resigning as captain and do you want the role? We had a few discussions about it but yes it was literally go from day one. I think we played five county games in about five weeks. Just getting to know the squad, there were some players who had come through the junior ranks who I hadn't even met yet. I had to get to grips with what had happened over the winter and figure out what was going on and just try to do my best as much as I could.
How have you found managing your own form as well as the captaincy duties?
Naomi: At the start I thought having the captaincy might help my game more. When I've captained sides in the past it has actually helped me bat and bowl better but as it's gone on, I don't know if it was the problem of not winning games that was putting more pressure on the captaincy and my form. I like to still think they [the roles of captain and player] are quite separate so being captain has actually challenged me and made me learn a lot more in terms of batting and just having that extra responsibility of looking after the team. I've learnt more mentally than I would have if I wasn't captain.
Natasha: I sort of agree with Naomi, I felt the captaincy would help with my form a bit as it would put that extra responsibility on my shoulders to stick around. Obviously as captain you have that extra impetus to want to be there from the beginning [of the innings] to the end to see it through. It's done well in the few games we've played and it also gave me a bit of freedom to try to hit the ball a bit harder because T20 is a shorter format and you can take a few more risks. That's actually worked out a bit better than almost playing within myself in the 50-over format.
How have you found having each other as vice-captains?
Natasha: It's so good because there are aspects of the game you can transfer from both formats that we can talk about and we get on really well.
Naomi: I really like it because sometimes I'll have a thought on the pitch and I'm not quite sure about it, Tash might have seen it differently and it's really nice to be able to bounce off ideas with her and see what works best. Sometimes we don't have the same thought process, but then on the day that it's 50-overs I can make the decision and then Tash can do the same in T20s. But it's good that we get both angles.
Natasha: We stand at two different ends of the ground so we can see the whole ground so it's good and actually works really well.
What's been the highlight of captaining Middlesex so far?
Natasha: The environment we've built, it's been really fun and relaxed. Having a lot of the young girls come through and buy into what we want to build has been really good. Obviously winning the London Cup from a T20 point of view, as it is just always so much fun to beat Surrey.
Naomi: I think even though the 50-over format hasn't gone our way, that one game we won by one run. The emotions and nerves and the team performing under pressure just showed me a glimpse of what this team can actually achieve. Little things like that just make it exciting for the future.
Natasha: We are a young squad so we're building and I think we're doing a good job.
What are the biggest challenges of captaining?
Natasha: People wander. I hate to say it but you have to be so alert when you're captaining to make sure people are where you want them to be as sometimes they drift.
Naomi: Although it's challenging it's a good challenge to have as it forces you to make sure you know where you want your fielders and make sure you're angles are correct.
Natasha: It's nerve-wracking when it's close.
What are your aims for the remainder of the season?
Naomi: Personally I'd like to finish the season with wins in both our games against Kent and Sussex. Off the back of the T20 matches we've got good momentum and people are starting to feel more confident and realise they actually can do it. This self-belief is something we've spoken about throughout the season. I'd really just love to win those last two games and put everything that we've worked hard through the season on to finish off on a high.
Natasha: I'd have to agree. I think with the impetus we've created from the T20s we need to carry that through to the rest of our T20 games and to the 50-over format. It's important to me that everyone realises their potential and kicks on. I think we've had some really good starts and we're probably playing at 80% of our potential and if we did that at 100% then I think we'd be a pretty tough team to beat. I want us to get in the same position as Naomi was saying winning our last two 50-over matches to help keep us in Division One.
Middlesex are next in action on Sunday 16th July, when they travel to North Maidenhead Cricket Club to take on Berkshire and Surrey in the T20 format.