By Matt Somerford
All-rounder John Hastings thinks Durham are hitting form at the right time as they aim to lift silverware for the fifth time in eight seasons.
While the 28-year-old Australian admits his first season in county cricket has mostly been frustrating, Durham are one game away from reaching the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s following a recent upturn in fortunes.
Standing in their way is a Notts Outlaws side who will be smarting from suffering a 54-run LV= County Championship defeat at Durham only three days previous.
That result significantly boosted Durham’s relegation worries – and dented Nottinghamshire’s title bid – to add extra spice to this weekend’s last-four clash.
“That was a massive win for the club,” Hastings told ecb.co.uk
“A win is a win no matter what format it is in.
“It was a hard-fought win too and the blokes were knackered afterwards.
“But we have taken an important step in the four-day game and now we can look to trying to bring the club some silverware because I think they really deserve it.”
Durham booked their place in the last-four with another upset win, against cross-border rivals Yorkshire at Headingley last week.
Hastings took some key scalps in a battling bowling display as Durham defended 237 to knock out a Vikings side that had lost just twice in the group stage to top Group A.
The success has seemingly served to kick-start Durham and, while Hastings concedes consistency has been a problem, he can see confidence rising around him.
“It has been a pretty frustrating season for the club in many ways but now we have the chance to get a trophy,” he said.
“It has been and up and down season for us in the 50-over competition. We’ve strung some really good wins together, we’ve struggled at times and there have been games that we probably should have won that we didn’t.
“We had a good win this week (in the championship) so we are full of confidence and we can take that into the weekend.”
Durham plans have been hampered by injuries – especially to their seam bowlers – although Hastings has been happy to shoulder the burden.
The barrel-chested right-armer, who has played 11 one-day internationals for Australia, is Durham’s leading wicket-taker in the Cup with 13 at 22.46 while he has chipped in with key wickets in the longer format.
“I don’t mind lugging that pressure on my shoulders and being the leader of the pack,” he said.
“I like to play my cricket in an aggressive way and try and lead by example in that manner.
“I’d like a few more runs. I’ve had a few opportunities to finish games where I haven’t been able to do that at the end of an innings.
“Hopefully I can do that this weekend if I get the chance. I have been happy to keep contributing with the ball and doing what is required.”
Whether or not Durham finish the season with more silverware, Hastings is sure that he would like to return to the north-east next season.
“It is a fantastic place. The people are really friendly – they’ve made me and my wife feel welcome,” said Hastings, whose only other taste of English cricket came for club side Wimbledon a few years ago.
“It reminds me a bit of where I am from in Hawkesbury (north of Sydney) with the rolling hills. It’s a great place to live and play cricket.
“I would absolutely love to come back.”
Royal London One-Day Cup facts
*Durham have won six of their last nine List A matches against Notts, including this year’s Royal London One-Day Cup group stage clash.
*The home team have won five and lost one of the last six List A contests between Durham and Notts at Emirates Durham ICG.
*Since the start of 2012 Samit Patel is the only player to score at least 1,000 runs and take more than 30 wickets in English domestic List A cricket.
*Warwickshire have featured in 17 domestic List A finals, Kent 14, Notts five and Durham one.