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