By Rob Barnett
Worcestershire Rapids’ Jack Shantry, who describes himself as “a frustrated footballer”, is embracing the grand stage of the NatWest T20 Blast, which starts a week today.
Shantry, a big Bristol City fan, is also looking forward to this summer’s football World Cup, in which his friend Joe Hart will likely play in goal for England.
Before the global football showpiece in Brazil starts on June 12, Shantry is hoping to put in some show-stopping displays in the T20 Blast. The Rapids kick off their North Group campaign next Friday versus another renamed side: Durham Jets.
Speaking to ecb.co.uk, the 26-year-old left-arm seamer admitted: “As a cricketer I’m obviously a frustrated footballer and we always want to play football.
“I don’t think you can get close to a football atmosphere, but it’s fantastic when you play at Edgbaston or New Road in front of a full house; you get the local derby atmosphere. I think it brings out the best in players.”
While Shantry will be hoping Worcestershire can improve on their second-from-bottom finish in last year’s Twenty20 group, he does not give the England football team much chance of progressing to the knock-out stage of the World Cup.
“I think if we make it out of the qualification group we’ll be very happy and anything after that’s a bonus,” he said of England.
“You’ve got to support the team. Fingers crossed that Joe Hart, who used to be a cricketer at Shrewsbury and Worcestershire Academy, has a good tournament and does well on the world stage.
“We were good friends growing up. He’s gone on to bigger and better things now. I know he still keeps his eye on the cricket and will be supporting Worcestershire.”
Shantry sees similarities between T20 cricket and football’s World Cup, adding: “You always want to play in the biggest games and Twenty20 can provide those, high-pressure situations.
“Every ball’s an event so the strongest players come to the fore in Twenty20 cricket.
“I love it. I’m really excited by it. I’m loving the fact that we’re playing on Friday nights and particularly for Worcestershire we’ve got this new brand ‘Rapids’, which should energise the team and give the crowd something to watch.”
Shantry, who was Worcestershire’s leading T20 wicket-taker last year with 12 scalps in 10 games, conceded he has an ulterior motive for enjoying the shortest format.
“I always enjoy having a lie-in for a start, not playing until around 5.30pm,” he joked.
“It’s always good fun, the batsmen come at you a bit more as well and you’ve got more chance of getting wickets.
“Everything’s condensed and I love the fact that it’s over in three hours as well.”