Nathan Sowter feels he must make a bigger contribution to Middlesex’s red-ball campaign before he can regard himself as the county’s number one spinner.
Leg-spinner Sowter has been an ever-present in limited-overs cricket this season, as well as featuring in each of the last four Specsavers County Championship fixtures for Dawid Malan’s side.
Yet, although the Seaxes have underlined their faith in Sowter by loaning senior spinner Ollie Rayner to Kent for the remainder of the campaign, the 26-year-old feels he still has plenty to prove.
“I’m still learning, trying to get better and seeing if I can take that role,” Sowter admitted.
“I do feel like, in those big moments, Dawid’s giving me the ball and saying ‘change the game’. I like being that person and trying to help us win games.
“It’s been nice to get an opportunity in the red-ball stuff as well, but I’m still trying to find my feet there. I probably haven’t got the rewards I would have hoped for.
“But there are still four games to go this season, so I’ll be looking to bowl better, put in some match-winning performances and hopefully push us to promotion.”
Sowter, who has taken nine Championship wickets at an average of 50 this season, should get an opportunity to increase that tally when Middlesex resume their red-ball programme against Sussex at Hove, starting on Sunday.
He is grateful to head coach Stuart Law, who gave him the nod for the longer format after his consistent performances in the Royal London One-Day Cup yielded 25 wickets – more than any other bowler in the country bar Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood.
“The one-day comp gave me a lot of confidence and belief that I was good enough at this level,” said Sowter. “I felt like I found my groove.
“All coaches like it if you perform but Stuart’s pretty open and what he said was that, if you bowl well, you’re going to get an opportunity in the red-ball stuff.
“Other than one game, that’s something I’d never really got before Stuart came here. It’s nice to know if you go well you can get that opportunity – now it’s about trying to take it with both hands.”
Sowter has also impressed lately in the Vitality Blast, where he is again among the leading wicket-takers in the tournament with 16 to his name.
Operating alongside Mujeeb Ur-Rahman until the Afghanistan spinner was recalled by his national association, he will now look to forge a partnership with new arrival Mohammad Hafeez during the rest of Middlesex’s group matches.
“That’s good to have – it takes away a little bit of the pressure,” added Sowter. “Batsmen are not always eyeing up the one spinner, they’re looking elsewhere.
“T20 challenges your skills in that you can bowl really well some nights and still go for 45. But it’s been good to put in some performances and the boys have played really well so far.”