Middlesex batsman concentrates on continuing his learning at Lord’s
After cycling around the Olympic Park Velodrome last winter, Nick Gubbins is focused on a different kind of white-knuckle ride at Middlesex.
The 21-year-old opener followed in the footsteps of 2012 gold medallists Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott at the iconic venue as part of a dissertation on Olympic legacy for his degree in geography at Leeds University.
The Aquatic Centre also received some visits from Gubbins, who filed the final draft of his essay between winter nets at Finchley and Middlesex’s pre-season trip to the United Arab Emirates.
And, with his desk cleared of academia, the left-hander has devoted his full attention to a different learning curve – continuing his decent start to life at Lord’s.
“Getting to try out the Velodrome was a great experience,” he said. “Riding around a track angled at 42 degrees was interesting to say the least.
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“But it was all part of exploring the impact of Olympic venues on urban issues like deprivation and things like that.
“It was a strange and busy winter saying goodbye to education, ringing up people right, left and centre for the dissertation – but I have no exams this summer, so I feel in a really good place to crack on with cricket.”
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Gubbins, who began his cricketing education in the same place as former Middlesex and England skipper Andrew Strauss, Radley College, made a favourable impression in his first few appearances for the Seaxes last summer.
A half-century on debut against Northamptonshire at Lord’s was followed by two more the following week against Somerset at Uxbridge, where in the second innings he was run out just five short of a century.
A promising pre-season in Abu Dhabi earned Gubbins a place in Middlesex’s starting XI for the beginning of the campaign – one that he justified with half-centuries in last month’s comeback win over Somerset.
A lean spell since then, however, has made his spot at the top of the order appear more vulnerable – particularly given Dawid Malan’s imminent comeback from injury and Eoin Morgan’s return from IPL duties.
Any reshuffle could involve pushing Nick Compton up to open and create more room in a congested middle order, which would leave Gubbins the odd one out for now.
But the youngster is sufficiently relaxed to play the long game, saying: “To have the likes of Compo and Sam Robson around can only benefit my game, so the short-term goal is to learn from them.
“They are both England Test openers, so it does not get any better in terms of characters to learn from. I’d say I was a long way from cementing a place in the Middlesex first team, but then you never want to look too far ahead.”
And, while his Middlesex contract will pay off the university fees, Gubbins insists he will never regard playing cricket at Lord’s as work.
“Last year I averaged high 30s, so I’d like to improve on that,” he added. “When I started playing this game I did it because I enjoyed it, not because it was a job.
“Luckily it has turned into a job, but as long as I travel in this game I’m not going to look on it as work.
“There will be times when it will be tough, but if I focus on enjoying the game that in the long-term will see me do better.”
Middlesex are in NatWest T20 Blast action on Thursday, when they face Kent Spitfires at Lord’s (6.15pm) before taking on Sussex Sharks at Hove the following day.