Captain urges Highgate players to enjoy their cricket ahead of Hornsey clash

Highgate captain Jake Sharland

Highgate captain Jake Sharland - Credit: Max Flego

Highgate captain Jake Sharland wants his side to forget about results and focus on enjoying the game as they attempt to turn their season around.

Sharland’s team, who went unbeaten throughout their Middlesex County League Division Three title-winning campaign last year, have won just once so far at the higher level and are second from bottom in the table.

And the skipper feels Highgate – whose home clash with Brondesbury was abandoned due to bad weather at the weekend – need to adopt a more carefree mentality as they approach the second half of the season.

“We’ve played some decent cricket and we’ve been unlucky in some games, but we haven’t bowled well enough to put the opposing batsmen under pressure,” said Sharland.

“I think a lot of us have gone into our shells and become too uptight, with bowlers thinking too much about where they’re putting the ball. We need to find a way of playing with the pressure off again.

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“We’re a very tight unit, we’re all good friends and that has been our strength in the past. But I think we’ve been worrying too much about the results.

“I still believe we’re more than capable of thriving in this division. We need to make sure we’re enjoying our cricket going into the second half of the season and as long as we do that we’ll be fine.

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“We’re eyeing up certain fixtures such as Acton, Harrow St Mary’s and Barnes. If we win three more matches, we’ll be there or thereabouts – four wins and we’ll be safe.”

Highgate were in a solid position before the rain halted their progress on Saturday, reaching 134-4 from 37 overs after the visitors had put them in at Shepherd’s Cot.

Overseas player Sandun Dias hit his third successive half-century, while Muazam Ali was unbeaten on 40, and Sharland is hoping his batsmen can improve further when they make the short trip to Hornsey this weekend.

“We need Sandun to step up and turn those 50s into a match-winning knock,” added the captain. “Given the pitch and the overhead conditions, we were happy with the way we’d progressed against Brondesbury.

“They’ve got probably the best seam attack in the league and I think 200 would have been a winning total on that pitch, so it’s really disappointing. But when you’re not doing well these things seem to go against you.

“We were very much the underdogs, as we will be against Hornsey this weekend. It’s a local derby, they’ve started well and [their captain] Paul Weekes is performing week in, week out.

“But I think the fact that we’re underdogs affords us the opportunity to play with a bit more freedom. We’ll give it a go.”

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