No matter who you are there is always going to be pressure when you make your England Test debut and it won’t be any different for seamer Toby Roland-Jones on Thursday.
I spoke with my former Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson prior to his first international red-ball match on home soil at Lord’s earlier this month and he was very nervous. It will be exactly the same for Roland-Jones and Essex batsman Tom Westley.
That burden is often intensified when you’re a player on the periphery trying to push your way into the team. Roland-Jones falls into that category as had it not been for injuries to Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Jake Ball, he might not be playing.
I can sympathise with that position and how the 29-year-old might be feeling because for the a large part of my career I was knocking on the England door and just waiting for a chance. You just want to show the world what you can do.
With the introduction of Twenty20, modern-day players are used to performing in front of bigger crowds so stepping out in a Test match is not as daunting as it perhaps once was.
There is, however, the extra scrutiny and, at times, criticism which comes with playing for England, although you can’t think too much about it. It’s easier said than done but you cannot let your emotions get the better of you.
You’ve almost got to take it back to being a 10-year-old boy when you dreamt of playing for England, focus on your ambitions being realised and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
I really like Roland-Jones as a bowler. He has been a good county player for a long time now and in the right conditions he is a very difficult customer. His average and strike rate – 25.73 and 49 respectively – will be among the best in domestic cricket.
He’s similar to South Africa’s Vernon Philander; he’s not the quickest and doesn’t really swing the ball but just lands it, hits the seam and is very clever. If there is anything in the pitch, he will find it.
A typical Kia Oval wicket is quite flat, slow and dry. That might not be the perfect pitch for him to bowl on – he would probably have preferred Lord’s or Trent Bridge – but I’ve no doubt he will hit the right areas. Good luck to him and fellow Test debutant Westley.
Talking of bowling ability, I note the MCC are planning to introduce honours boards for international 50-over cricket in the Lord’s dressing rooms which would mean England's Anya Shrubsole being immortalised following her 6-46 in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.
Women’s cricket has come such a long way in recent years and that has stemmed from investment from the grassroots through to the top. The England and Wales Cricket Board have done really well and I’m sure they’ll look to capitalise even more.
The Women’s Super League and central contracts didn’t exist a few years ago and if we keep building on that it will promote the game across both genders and that can only be a positive.