From Perth sunshine to chilly London April. Stephen Eskinazi is every inch the modern cricketer

Since a fighting 58 at Trent Bridge for Middlesex last September, Stephen Eskinazi has been playing his cricket in the balmy climes of Abu Dhabi for Chennai Braves and in a scorching Perth for, well the Scorchers, obviously. Only a badly damaged hand prevented him from adding Bangladesh to his travel itinerary.  All a  far cry indeed from Lords in April where we now sit in a chilly Allen Stand gazing out as leaden skies hang menacingly over Lords.

Even so, a brisk April in NW8 and the prospect of a new County Championship season must top Eski’s ‘desired destinations’ list, doesn’t it? The answer is a both honest and diplomatic. “I had three pretty exciting competitions lined up, which I guess is nicer than being stuck in the indoor centre here”. But does it beat the start of the County season?

“It’s funny, he says. “I’ve had some fantastic winters in the UK where you can hone your game, iron out technical kinks, but in the position that I’m in now where I want to play as much white ball cricket going forward and to expose myself to the best players in the best conditions has been at the forefront of my focus for a while”.

Modern day cricketers need to compartmentalise

 However, he adds, “ a modern cricketer has to ‘compartmentalise’ and getting back into the four-day county game is something that genuinely does excite me”.

Thankfully the hand is now finally healed although it was, says Stephen, “a nasty one and has needed more than a two-month road to recovery, having torn three ligaments in my finger”. Although the rest has been perhaps “a blessing in disguise, offering time to refresh”, it did mean missing the Big Bash play off which was “frustrating”.

Certainly, the frustrations of last year are a clear motivator for Eski and indeed the whole squad. “Fundamentally”, he says, “we got what we deserved in pretty much every competition that we played in. We showed the team we can be on some occasions but we were not consistent. We know how long and how well we have to play for rewards like promotion or staying in Division One.  I don’t think, he said pointedly,  “anyone at the end of that game last year (Notts away) felt we got anything but what we deserved”.

Harsh words indeed, but now, with the injection of “a couple of really good domestic players and increased exposure in the winter for some players we feel like we are in a great place to do what we did two years ago and bounce straight back up”.

Something that adds to the new season excitement for Stephen is the opportunity to bat with new Middlesex signing Leus du Plooy who he rates as “probably the most consistent all format cricketer in the country” adding that “what he’s been able to go and do in the winter is immense in itself”.  It’s  a surprise to Stephie that neither South Africa or England have yet made approaches, du Ploy’s appearances for Hungary in a recent T10 not counting against that in either case.

No sugar- coating last year’s disappointments

 As Middlesex’s white ball captain this year, there really was no attempt from Eski to sugar coat last year’s Blast as anything other than a major disappointment, although as with the red ball, there we genuine highs like the wins over Glamorgan and Surrey. That old nemesis of inconsistency and games lost that were there for winning was all to present however. This year however, Stephen cites the addition  of Lus du Plooy and Henry Brooks plus the return to fitness of Blake Cullen as “players who can add real quality, have played in the Hundred and have been consistently good” as a massive boost. Nonetheless it is also, he adds,  “essential that the likes of Helmy, Joe Cracknell and of course myself who have played a lot of cricket, need to step up and take responsibility”.

Quiet confidence is how he sums up Middlesex’s chances for success this year in all formats. A fit and firing Stephen Eskinazi is likely to be an essential ingredient of that success.

Listen to the full interview with Stephen here: 

1 Comment

Comments are closed