Northants stint will help bright young tal­ent play to the Max

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - max holden Mid­dle­sex bats­man

Max Holden was al­ready no stranger to first-class cricket when he fi­nally made his de­but for his boy­hood club last month.

The Cam­bridge-born left­hander was able to draw on con­fi­dence from a suc­cess­ful sum­mer on loan to Northamp­ton­shire when he bat­ted in Mid­dle­sex’s mid­dle or­der against Hampshire at Uxbridge.

A prod­uct of the county’s youth sys­tem, play­ing for Mid­dle­sex was a dream come true for Holden, who joined the club’s Academy six years ago, aged just 13.

De­spite this, his lon­gawaited first-class de­but came in­stead this spring in Northants colours – the club which also tried to sign him as a young­ster.

He joined the Wan­tage Road out­fit on loan in April; a stint which in­cluded 723 runs at 42.52 in 10 first-class matches. A maiden cen­tury helped set up vic­tory over Durham, fol­lowed by 153 against Kent, con­firm­ing his emer­gence as a ris­ing young tal­ent.

“It was good to be at Northamp­ton and get a run in the side and into a rhythm of play­ing that level of cricket,” said Holden, who was re­cently named by Northants as their young player of the year. “They’re a re­ally good group of lads and I’m thank­ful for the op­por­tu­nity they gave me. I was pleased to score a few runs and con­trib­ute to what’s been a pretty good sea­son for them in red ball cricket.

“It was a spe­cial mo­ment to get my first first-class hun­dred and hope­fully one for Mid­dle­sex will fol­low!”

Holden was pre­sented with his num­bered com­mem­o­ra­tive first-team Mid­dle­sex cap by skip­per James Franklin ahead of the game at Uxbridge, a ground where he’s played a lot of Sec­ond XI cricket.

Holden added: “It re­ally helped play­ing sec­ond team cricket for a few years and then get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to play first-class level with Northamp­ton­shire and get­ting ex­posed to that and the pres­sure that comes with it.

“It made it a lot eas­ier mak­ing my Mid­dle­sex de­but, know­ing that I’d al­ready played 10 first-class games. Even though the game against Hampshire was Di­vi­sion One, so it was go­ing to be an­other step up, I felt I’d got that be­hind me and got that bit of exposure and ex­pe­ri­ence, so it made it a lot eas­ier for me com­ing into the game.”

Holden’s ap­proach, what­ever level he plays, is re­fresh­ingly sim­ple: “There’s so lit­tle mar­gin for er­ror at first team level, if you’re bat­ting and you make one mis­take you’re gone. The field­ers take their catches, the bowlers are re­lent­less in the ar­eas they hit, so you’ve got to be on it from ball one all the way through your in­nings.You don’t get away with so many loose shots, you have to be re­ally fo­cused and grind your runs out.

“But at the same time, you can’t play the bowler, just be­cause he’s an in­ter­na­tional bowler.You can’t play him any dif­fer­ently; you’ve just got to watch the ball and do the things that you’ve done to get you there.”

JEREMY BLACK­MORE

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