Middlesex youngster Ryan Higgins says Twenty20 improvement is down to different mentality
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Ryan Higgins says a new mindset in the Middlesex dressing room this season has propelled them into the hunt for a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final spot.
Higgins has been a regular member of Middlesex’s T20 side this season, playing in seven of their nine completed games and hitting his first senior half-century against Glamorgan earlier this month.
Now the 21-year-old all-rounder is aiming to help steer the Lord’s side into the knockout stage for the first time since they won the tournament in 2008.
Currently occupying the final qualification place in the South Group, Middlesex face a crunch clash with local rivals Surrey, who are also in the mix, on Thursday evening at Lord’s.
“In terms of the T20 schedule, the game against Surrey is second to none in my eyes,” said Higgins. “I played in this game a couple of years ago – the crowd and the quality of players it brings is phenomenal.
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“Surrey have a really good one-day side, but we always want to beat them and I’m sure they want to beat us. It’s a great challenge and everyone enjoys the chance to go and express themselves in front of a big crowd.
“We’re in a pretty good position going into these last four games and if we can win at least a couple we’ll put ourselves in a good position to get to the quarter-final.
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“There’s been a bit of a shake-up this season with the new leadership of Dawid Malan – he’s really taken us out of that losing mentality and that’s shown in every form of the game.
“That’s how it feels from a young player’s point of view – everyone’s good mates with each other and that mentality is always there, whatever format we’re playing. It’s probably the happiest dressing room I’ve ever been part of.
“If you look at the senior players this year, like Dawid and Eoin Morgan, they’ve been outstanding, and it feels great to be part of it.”
Higgins made his first-team debut two years ago in a T20 match against Somerset, but the bulk of his appearances have come in the second string prior to this season.
Originally a batsman who bowled occasionally, the youngster has begun to develop into more of an all-rounder, coming to the crease at seven and also contributing spells of medium pace.
“I’ve always seen myself as a top-order batsman, although I don’t think Middlesex see me as that at the moment,” added Higgins. “But I’ll keep working on my bowling and see how it goes.
“Batting at seven, I’ve found you don’t normally come in with much time left – so in a sense that Glamorgan game, when we lost five wickets early on, was the kind of situation I’ve played a lot more in the second team.
“It was one of those situations where you just have to get through and put a score on the board.
“Getting past the landmark of 50 was nice, although I didn’t really think about it as much as I would have done when I first came into the team.
“I know it’s going to be a tough ask to get into the County Championship side – it’s such a strong team and I haven’t set myself any goals in that respect.
“All I can do is put in good performances, enjoy each game and support the rest of the lads – even if it’s as 12th man – then take my opportunity when it comes.”
Following the Surrey game (6.15pm), Middlesex travel to the Ageas Bowl to face Hampshire in their next T20 fixture on Friday (7pm).
They also resume their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign on Sunday, hosting Kent Spitfires at Lord’s (11am) before taking on Somerset at Taunton two days later.