Northants stint will help bright young talent play to the Max
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.”