Story provided by the ECB Reporters Network
Ethan Bamber’s Royal London Cup performances may not have been enough to steer Middlesex into the knockout stages, but they’ve gone some way towards banishing his inferiority complex.
Seamer Bamber, 22, freely admits to feeling somewhat overawed when he opened the bowling in the Vitality Blast earlier this summer – only to be savaged by power hitters such as Will Jacks and D’Arcy Short.
But he has thrived on his extra responsibility during the 50-over tournament, spearheading the Seaxes’ attack alongside James Harris and topping their wicket-taking chart with 10 from five games.
“I was a little apologetic in the way I went about my bowling and that’s the biggest thing I’ve tried to change,” said Bamber. “I was getting that feeling I’d been slightly timid in what I’d left out there.
“It was a daunting prospect, almost feeling I didn’t deserve to be there, bowling at a particular batter. At the start of the Blast, I was expecting to get hit and it felt like a surprise if I bowled a dot ball.
“In T20 it’s so confrontational, you’re thinking about these guys trying to take you down. If I were them, I’d also be looking at me thinking ‘this guy’s got to go’.
“But I’ve had a more positive mindset in this tournament. No-one enjoys getting whacked but it’s about relishing the challenge, being in the contest and I’ve tried to judge myself on that rather than whether I’m taking wickets.”
With first-team regulars on duty at the Hundred, Middlesex have turned to players such as Bamber, who had not previously featured in their one-day side.
“Jim (Harris) has been so generous in his advice and help and I love opening up and bowling at the death with him," said Bamber. “Bowling at the death doesn’t always go well, but that pressure is one of the reasons why I play. It might not be a World Cup final but that feeling is unlike anything else, the chance to be the guy everything falls to.”
When it comes to red-ball cricket, Bamber is often regarded as a long-term successor to the evergreen Tim Murtagh – the pivot of Middlesex’s bowling unit for well over a decade – and he initially deputised for Murtagh after breaking into the side in 2018.
This year, though, the pair have largely been deployed in tandem for County Championship games and Bamber hopes the ex-Ireland seamer, who recently turned 40, will be alongside him for a while yet.
“I’m incredibly flattered to be compared to Tim and talked about as someone with potential to lead the attack,” said Bamber. “He’s so consistent and his desire to take on those big moments is amazing.
“Among the bowling group, we absolutely trust what each other does. There’s responsibility to take some of those moments on our shoulders as well, but hopefully Tim can be around a good few more years.
“We’re very different bowlers in the way we go about things but we have some good chats out there. He makes my job a lot easier.”
The Seaxes’ pace pack also includes Max Harris, who is yet to make his debut but has been part of the squad throughout their 50-over campaign and, like Bamber, is a graduate of the North Middlesex club in Crouch End.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Luke Hollman and hard-hitting batsman Joe Cracknell have also stepped up from North Middlesex in recent years and Bamber believes all can play key roles in transforming the county’s fortunes after an underwhelming
“There’s nine or 10 of us who have come through the academy together," added Bamber. "It’s no secret we haven’t been good enough this year but I feel it can tip into something really exciting and I want to give everything I can to make that happen.”