Natwest T20 Blast: Ryan Higgins urges Middlesex to kick on ahead of busy run
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Middlesex face three games in four days
Ryan Higgins says it is time for Middlesex “to kick on” in their NatWest T20 Blast campaign as they prepare for a run of three games in four days that is likely to determine the outcome of their short-form season.
The 22-year-old all-rounder has been the surprise package of Middlesex’s first four matches in the South Group, showing up well with both bat and ball while some of his more illustrious team-mates have struggled to get going.
Higgins played one of the most spectacular knocks of the T20 Blast competition so far when, in Middlesex’s opening match, he smashed an unbeaten 68 from just 28 balls to secure a miraculous tie against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.
He then hit a six and a four from his first two balls faced as Middlesex survived a headlong late collapse to squeeze home by one wicket against Surrey at Lord’s before, on Sunday, taking 1 for 9 in two overs of medium pace and finishing 35 not out, off only 16 balls, in the 21-run defeat against Somerset at Uxbridge.
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Higgins currently heads Middlesex’s T20 batting averages with 117 runs at 58.50, at the eye-catching strike rate of 220.75, but believes this week’s training sessions will be key to the team’s prospects when they host Kent at Richmond on Thursday night, followed by the London derby return against Surrey at the Kia Oval the next evening and a Sunday trip to take on Somerset again, this time at Taunton.
“It’s still early days in the tournament, and we are still finding our balance as a side,” said Higgins about Middlesex’s start, which has produced three points from four matches. “We are getting closer to what we are capable of with every game. Against Somerset at Uxbridge we had a pretty good game as a team, but they played a bit better than us.
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“We will work hard in training this week and having a few days’ break after you lose a game is a good thing, whereas when you win you just want to play again the next day!
“I am happy with how my own game is going, and that Cheltenham innings was massive in terms of my confidence and belief in my ability. To know you can do it under pressure like that is huge, and I am going to keep being positive.
“The training and net practice I do is geared towards improving my ‘death batting’, as I call it, because being able to hit certain shots in the closing overs is vital, while I am also working hard on my bowling. It is getting there, and I definitely want to bowl more overs in matches.”
Higgins, though Harare-born, came to live in England with his parents when he was a child and has progressed to senior level from Berkshire Under-14s through to Middlesex Under-17s and Under-19s. He has also represented England Under-19s and made his T20 debut back in 2014.
In 26 T20 appearances to date he has scored 396 runs at an average of 26.40 and taken eight wickets at 16.25. They are impressive early figures for someone who bats in the lower middle order and bowls occasionally but, clearly, there is a lot more to come from Higgins.
“Ryan has been fantastic in the tournament over our first four matches,” said Middlesex T20 coach Dan Vettori. “As a team, we are not playing with enough consistency yet, but there are some big names in this squad and we are backing ourselves to get better and better.”