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The Cricket Paper - - ENGLAND TOUR OF BANGLADESH - By Paul Ed­di­son

Nick Gub­bins on what made his 2016 sea­son so suc­cess­ful

REACH 35 and get money in the bank. That was the mantra be­hind Nick Gub­bins’ 2016 County Cham­pi­onship sea­son.

And with more than 1,400 runs, a maiden first-class cen­tury fol­lowed by a dou­ble ton, as well as be­ing the top scorer in a ti­tlewin­ning Mid­dle­sex side, it worked won­ders for the 22-yearold.

As a for­mer Radley Col­lege stu­dent and a left-handed opener at Mid­dle­sex, Gub­bins has in­evitably spent most of his young crick­et­ing ca­reer be­ing com­pared to An­drew Strauss.

But af­ter some strug­gles in the four-day game in 2015, he went to a dif­fer­ent pair of Eng­land open­ers for ad­vice.

Mid­dle­sex team­mate Nick Comp­ton was only too will­ing to sit down with Gub­bins and run through his meth­ods, while Alastair Cook of­fered his own take on how to sur­vive at the top of the or­der.

Gub­bins said: “I spoke to Nick at the start of the sea­son and he ex­plained how he goes about it. The im­por­tant thing was al­ways to get to 35 so you had money in the bank.

“Af­ter that you take stock and you can build from there. It re­ally helped me, whether it’s a seam­ing wicket or it’s flat.

“When I got a dou­ble hun­dred against Lan­cashire I found my­self in the 130s and thought this is the same sit­u­a­tion. It’s not a case of not tak­ing chances be­fore 35 but think­ing about your shots.

“Alastair Cook spoke to me about hav­ing a lim­ited num­ber of shots that he played. You avoid the dan­ger­ous shots and try to stick to the safer one. I didn’t used to cut the ball a lot, but this year I re­alised that was safer than pulling from out­side off. So I made that ad­just­ment this sea­son.”

The high­light of the cam­paign no doubt came in the dra­matic fi­nale, 125 in the first in­nings against York­shire be­fore a cru­cial 93 bat­ting sec­ond time around. Those knocks came on the back of learn­ing of his se­lec­tion for the Lions this win­ter, while Gub­bins was also re­warded with a new con­tract by his home county.

He even got to visit Buck­ing­ham Palace when Mid­dle­sex re­ceived the County Cham­pi­onship from the Duke of Ed­in­burgh this week, but be­lieves it is now time to fo­cus on the fu­ture.

He added: “I’ve not held a bat since that last day at Lord’s and it’s been a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s in­cred­i­ble to have won the title at my age, when you look at peo­ple like James Franklin and Tim Murtagh and re­alise how long they have had to wait. Steve Eski­nazi and I joked that we might as well stop now be­cause it won’t get any bet­ter!

“But Gus Fraser has al­ready started pre­par­ing for next year and I think the trip to Buck­ing­ham Palace was the time to draw a line un­der it.” It might seem like a sim­ple at­ti­tude, but it’s ob­vi­ously one that worked for Gub­bins. The pres­sure will come now. Mid­dle­sex have gone from be­ing the hunters to be­ing the hunted. Ev­ery­one will want to beat the cur­rent cham­pi­ons and this batch of play­ers need to keep im­prov­ing. If 2017 is big for Gub­bins then in­ter­na­tional call-ups surely beckon

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Over the top: Nick Gub­bins lifts a half vol­ley to deep square leg dur­ing his pro­lific sea­son

Ad­vice: Nick Comp­ton

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