WTC 2021-23, Eng vs NZ: Matthew Potts - Confident Durham Quick with enviable repertoire of skills
Matthew Potts got Kane Williamson as his first Test wicket. He dismissed Kane Williamson in the both innings of Lord's Test.
One of the main reasons for the recent travails of England in Test cricket has been their batting but their bowling too in some vital cases hasn’t remained immune from criticism. Undoubtedly, England have struggled due to their poor batting up the order but the over-dependence on veterans, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who don’t have much fuel left in their tank, may end up putting more pressure on them when the two giants are more or less set to bow out of international cricket.
The endless list of injuries plaguing England bowlers threatens to burden newly appointed captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. From Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, Ollie Robbinson, Olly Stone, Sam Curran to freshly added Matthew Fisher and Saqib Mahmood, all have been down with back injuries at a time when Chris Woakes (shoulder & knee) and Mark Wood (elbow) too are down with various issues.
Matthew Potts: The talented and confident Durham kid
“He is not quietly confident. He is very confident,” Durham’s batting coach Neil Killeen said about young Matthew Potts who has also played for England at the U-19 level. “It’s not an ‘arrogant confident’; It’s just the way he holds himself.”
The self-belief besides helping him in achieving his dreams has also put him in trouble in the past - sometimes painfully but that has failed to break his mental barrier. Ash Thorpe, who played with Potts at his former club Washington in the north-east expressed how cheeky Potts had been in a non-offensive way carrying the drive, chirp and confidence of his own ability to go somewhere deep into the game.
“It was nothing more than him wanting to prove a point - the alpha male inside him,” Thorpe said about his teammate. Potts started out his childhood career as a batter at Washington, opening as a schoolboy in men’s league cricket but that didn’t last long.
Read More: WTC 2021-23, Eng vs NZ, 1st Test, Day 1: Bowlers shine at Lord's; Eng 116-7 in response to NZ's 132
A glorious beginning to County career
At the age of 18, Potts made his debut for Durham as a right-arm medium pacer who can bat lower down the order. He had an outstanding start to the County Championship season after his cold debut against Kent with just one wicket in the game. In 2019, he shot into the spotlight with 17 wickets in his debut T20 Blast season.
Potts is the joint leading wicket-taker in County Championship 2022, with 35 wickets in just six games at an average of 18.57 in Division Two. In his six-for against Nottinghamshire earlier in the summer, five of his wickets were either bowled or LBW; also, against Worcestershire, he took six of the top seven batters.
Potts doesn’t have express pace; those who have seen him develop, note that Potts started to level up in this season and worked in the gym to take his pace in excess of 85 mph. That is why in recent times when pitches have been lifeless and more batting-friendly, Potts with enviable skills of banging the deck hard besides nibbling the ball around with seam and swing, has found success more regularly.
There was little doubt that Potts, whose father stands at 6ft 8in, would be a successful seam bowler. But it wasn’t easy for the fast bowler who for a good amount of time had spent his time on the physio bench in Durham. The omission from the 2021 season made Potts faster, fitter and more focused on his goal.