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Gloucestershire star all-rounder Ryan Higgins is desperate for new season to get going

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 09:00

Ryan Higgins Ryan Higgins

Ryan Higgins is one of those real top-drawer all-rounders. When you see him bat you think he’s a batting all-rounder and when he’s bowling you think he must be a bowling all-rounder.

The figures don’t lie, the 25-year-old has enjoyed huge success since joining Gloucestershire from Middlesex for the start of the 2018 season.

He has made runs aplenty and has also been a regular wicket-taker with his bustling, sharper than medium pace.

And the great thing from Gloucestershire’s viewpoint is that he has been producing standout performances in all formats of the game – in the four-day county championship, in 50-overs cricket and in T20.

And in a few months’ time there’s every chance - coronavirus permitting - we’ll be adding a fourth specialism to his impressive CV because he’s been selected to play for Welsh Fire in the much-heralded Hundred competition, where he is scheduled to line up with and against some of the biggest names in world cricket.

And it’s not just in the quickest of quickfire formats that he’s set to take on some of the world’s finest in 2020 because for the first time since the mid-noughties - again coronavirus permitting - Gloucestershire will be competing in the top flight of the county championship this season.

It’s no wonder Higgins is desperate for the now delayed cricket season to start.

“When I first came to Gloucestershire one of the aims was to get into Division One, now we’re there we are all very happy,” he said.

And since winning promotion, Gloucestershire have worked hard to strengthen the side with former West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor and all-rounder George Scott joining on long-term contracts with India Test batting star Cheteshwar Pujara due to link up for the early part of the season and Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad signing up for the second half of the campaign.

“It shows the intent of the club,” said Higgins. “It shows that we want to stay up and cement our place in Division One.

“We don’t want to be there for just one season, we don’t want to be a yo-yo club.”

While Scott and Ahmad have bags of potential, Taylor and Pujara are proven on the biggest stages with Pujara still a major player in Test cricket.

And they’ll certainly strengthen Chris Dent’s largely youthful team as, hopefully, they are able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of champions Essex, Surrey and Yorkshire in the purest form of the county game.

Higgins played a handful of games in Division One for Middlesex in 2017 and is certainly not daunted by moving up a level this season.

“I was talking to some of the players from Kent and they were saying that there isn’t as big a gap as you’d expect,” he said.

“There are obviously two or three players in each team who stand out and the standard is going to be a step up but the pitches will be better which will help the batters, although it may be a bit tougher for the bowlers.”

Higgins has proved over the past couple of years that there’s nothing he likes more than a challenge and that’s going to stand him in very good stead in the coming months because he’s entering uncharted waters when he takes part in the new Hundred competition that is scheduled to kick in in the middle of July.

And that tournament is a challenge that Higgins can’t want to take on.

He’s in the Welsh Fire squad that includes world class Australian duo Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc as well as England batting star Jonny Bairstow.

Gloucestershire left-arm seamer David Payne is also in the squad and Higgins said: “It’s very exciting. I remember watching the draft and to get selected was awesome, it was an amazing feeling.”

The eight-team tournament features many of the best players in the world and Higgins added: “I just need to make sure that when I get the chance I play well.

“It’s an extraordinary side – all the sides are pretty extraordinary – and it’s pretty cool how all the top players want to play in the tournament and have committed to it.

“It’s a bit like at the start of a county career, I can’t wait to play in it and I’ll learn so much from these guys.”

And Higgins believes the competition will be different from the traditional T20 tournaments around the globe.

“Yes, I do,” he said. “There’s 20 balls fewer per innings so I think batsmen will go even harder at the start of their innings. Strike rates will be up, and it should be even more entertaining.”

Higgins reckons there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game, particularly his bowling, when it comes to the shortest versions of the game.

“I’m still learning in all three formats,” he said. “In the four-day game I think I’ve shown I can perform with the bat and the ball but in T20 I’m looking to add more skills to my bowling, I want greater variety.”

Higgins said he was looking at playing in T20 competitions outside of this country – “If I can have a good year, I’d like to try to get a few gigs,” he said.

That would obviously help him to hone those bowling skills and that in turn would be good news for Gloucestershire who have been regular visitors to the last eight of the T20 in recent seasons without making it through to finals day at Edgbaston.

Gloucestershire were knocked out by Derbyshire last season and Higgins admitted: “The quarter-finals have been a bit of a barrier, that’s something we’re looking to rectify this year.

“We’ve been doing the right things to reach the knockout stages but now we need to go that one step further.


“We mustn’t put too much pressure on ourselves. Last year we were the favourites against Derbyshire, normally we are the underdogs. On the day we didn’t quite get there so we’ve got to use that experience to our advantage.

“We’ve shown what we can do in the pool games, but it’s not an easy game.”

Cricket has been put on hold in this country until 28th May at the earliest with Gloucestershire’s T20 campaign scheduled to begin on Friday 29th May with a floodlit tie at Somerset (6.30pm).

Welsh Fire’s first game in The Hundred against Oval Invincibles at The Oval is set for Friday 17th July (6.30pm).

Gloucestershire’s 50-over Royal London Cup campaign is scheduled to start on Tuesday 21st July with a trip to Scarborough for a game against Durham.

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