BY MARCUS HOOK
Will Jacks says there is a new-found confidence in the Surrey dressing-room following the back-to-back wins over Hampshire and Middlesex in the Vitality Blast.
The 21-year-old was a factor with both bat and ball in the victories that have lifted the Oval outfit up to second place in the South Group.
“Over the last few games we’ve been coming together nicely as a team,” said Jacks.
“We haven’t played as well as we’ve needed to in the four-day stuff, so to get our first wins gives us the confidence to move forward in the Blast and qualify for the quarter-finals.
“We’ve bowled incredibly well. Dan Moriarty has been brilliant, as has Gareth Batty, as always.
“Given the standards we set ourselves we’ve been nowhere near where we’ve needed to be. We’ve been awful, to be honest. So it’s massively important for us and the fans to do well in the Blast.
“If you look down the teamsheet we should be winning games. We’ve made some good signings [n Laurie Evans and Jamie Overton] and we’ve got some good depth now. A few games ago we were struggling to put an 11 together. So, hopefully, we can keep moving forward.”
Jacks hit a match-winning 45 not out off 31 balls against Hampshire and shared in a 64-run opening stand with the former South Africa captain Hashim Amla.
“We knew it was a tricky wicket (to bat on) so me and Hash were keen to take it as deep as possible.
“It was really helpful to have him at the other end, especially when I was facing Shaheen Afridi, who was bowling quick. But Hash was there keeping me calm, telling me to play straight and watch the ball.
“In the past I would have probably hit one up in the air with five overs to go. But he was there to keep me going and make sure I was still there at the end of the game. He was just brilliant.
“There’s some extra responsibility for me at the top of the order, with Jason Roy not being around, so it’s important I kick on and put in some match-winning performances.
“Jason’s got so much natural talent, but the way he manages that is something I can bring into my own game.
“You can have all the shots, but it’s about picking the right time to play them.”
Jacks admits he is still dining out on hitting six sixes in an over en route to a 25-ball century in a friendly against Lancashire in Dubai at the start of last year. But the doors that innings has opened has whetted his appetite in terms of progressing to the next level.
“It was an unofficial game, but it got my name out there,” said Jacks. “It was good to be a member of the 55-man England practice squad ahead of the season starting.
“To come in and face the likes of Tom Curran and Reece Topley every day was a great experience and I learnt a lot in that three-week period.
“I also got to play in the T10 Cricket League out in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Eoin Morgan was my captain, which was brilliant. Hopefully, I can recreate some of that hitting in the next few weeks, which will lead to even more opportunities in the future.”
Looking ahead to the Vitality Blast run-in, Jacks said: “We know you don’t need to win the group with all 10 games won, you just need to make it into the quarters.
“T20 is a game of rhythm. Once you get into a way of winning it’s sometimes hard to get out of it, the same as when losing.
“We’re confident now of making the quarter-finals.”
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