By Callum Dent
Durham Jets are again without two explosive batsmen when they attempt to continue their NatWest T20 Blast momentum with a third consecutive North Group victory tomorrow night.
International call-ups see the Jets deprived of Ben Stokes and Calum MacLeod’s services for the fixture against in-form Nottinghamshire Outlaws at the Emirates Durham ICG.
Stokes is currently preparing for England’s first Investec Test versus India and MacLeod is part of a Scotland squad playing the third and final match of their one-day series with Netherlands in Glasgow tomorrow.
The duo’s absence provides a gaping hole in the Durham line-up following their impressive performances of late.
MacLeod is the Jets’ leading run-scorer with 284 in eight matches, while Stokes guided his side to a convincing eight-wicket win over Derbyshire Falcons on Sunday with a brutal 49 not out off 26 deliveries.
However, the Jets showed they could win without the pair last night when they dismissed Yorkshire Vikings for 95 to claim a 28-run victory at Headingley.
Australian all-rounder John Hastings is a man in form with the ball, following up career-best T20 figures of 4-26 against the Falcons with 3-22 in Leeds.
Third-placed Nottinghamshire, two points above the Jets in the North Group, arrive in the North East on the back of three successive triumphs, including the scalp of Yorkshire Vikings at Trent Bridge in their last outing.
Notts director of cricket Mick Newell is forced into making one change due to the unavailability of opening batsman Phil Jaques.
The Australian has returned to his homeland due to the completion of his short-term contract, meaning Sam Wood wins a recall and Steven Mullaney moves to the top of the order to accompany Alex Hales.
Seamer Luke Fletcher, who played a key role in the win over the Vikings, is expecting a tough encounter.
He told the club’s official website: “Playing Durham is always difficult. It’s a big ground, the Emirates, it’s always windy, which we have to think about.
“They’ll have a little momentum, especially coming from their win over Yorkshire. It was another tight, low-scoring contest there.
“But we’ve been in good form too, and we’ll be looking to take that into the match.”#
NatWest T20 Blast facts
* Nottinghamshire Outlaws have won six of their last nine Twenty20 matches against Durham Jets, but have lost the last two clashes.
* Samit Patel, the county’s leading run-scorer with 2,137 runs, is in line to become first player to bat 100 times for Nottinghamshire in English domestic T20s.