Sep 20 2012 By Jon Batham
TOBY Roland-Jones only really took up fast bowling as an after-thought according to Angus Fraser.
Roland-Jones received his reward yesterday for taking 61 wickets in an outstanding county season when he was named in this winter’s England performance squad.
However, Middlesex’s Director of Cricket Fraser first remembers the 24-year-old pace-man representing the county as a batsman in the junior ranks before a sudden growth spurt brought a change of direction the youngster was not that keen to take.
He said: “He suddenly shot up about four or five inches so the batting disappeared, although I think he was probably a reluctant bowler for a period of time.”
“It was only when we saw him playing for Leeds/Bradford University that we really got him involved with us and he began to realise he had the potential in the bowling department.”
Fraser is glad to note though that ‘TRJ’ has not abandoned his first love (batting) altogether, playing several useful hands in the night watchman role this season and notching his first first-class 50.
This re-discovery of his batting potential had Fraser drawing comparisons between Roland-Jones and his own former Middlesex and England team-mate John Emburey who made useful runs at both county and international level.
Fraser says former Sunbury club star Roland-Jones has the capacity to lift his batting to a similar level and so advance his international claims.
“I would expect him to be averaging 22-25 minimum over his career – he is capable of doing that,” he said.
“He can be a John Emburey sort of figure if you like – capable of scoring first-class 100s and a number of 50s each season.”
With Andrew Strauss now retired, Fraser made no secret of the fact any further promotion into the England ranks would be good not only for Roland-Jones but also Middlesex both from a prestige and financial angle.
He said: “Andrew Strauss has finished, but for the economics of the club we want to get someone else in Andrew’s position as soon as possible because financially it is very rewarding and it is hugely satisfying to see Middlesex players playing in England sides whether it is the first team, the Lions or whatever.”