Nick Gubbins has enlisted the help of his Middlesex teammate and former Test batsman Nick Compton – someone he regards as his mentor – to ensure he can push his career on again from a breakthrough season last year that took him close to full England honours.
Gubbins, the 23-year-old left-hander, scored 1,409 runs at an average of 61.26 in a memorable summer as Middlesex became county champions for the first time since 1993 – that is, before Gubbins was born.
There were four hundreds too, the first he had made at senior level, and he finished the championship campaign in style with innings of 125 and 93 in the thrilling win against Yorkshire at Lord’s that clinched Middlesex the title.
Middlesex's Nick Gubbins played superbly under pressure for his 4th ton of the season & brought it up with a 6️⃣! pic.twitter.com/YH8dYPgGz6— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 20, 2016
Selection for England Lions arrived last winter, although many judges thought Gubbins might even have been chosen for a Test debut ahead of fellow young thrusters, Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings.
Their subsequent success, of course, merely heightens Gubbins’ own ambitions to play for England but, first, the former Radley College pupil knows he must show that last season was not a flash in the pan.
“My approach this year is to go back to the basics of what has got me to this position,” said Gubbins. “I’m deliberately going back to my processes, back to breaking things down and re-assessing my game. You need to lose any ego you’ve got and concentrate on working hard and doing all the things that need to be done – such as facing lots and lots of balls in practice.
“Nick Compton has been a massive help to me. He’s my mentor and we’ve talked a lot about what I need to do to continue to make runs in first-class cricket. He’s been one of the batsmen who has dominated county cricket for a good number of years now, and he’s a great sounding board for me.”
I’m deliberately going back to my processes, back to breaking things down and re-assessing my game. You need to lose any ego you’ve got and concentrate on working hard
Gubbins also enjoyed sharing an apartment with Durham’s Jennings during their time together with the Lions in Dubai in the winter. “He’s a great guy and he showed he was ready for Test cricket when he got his chance,” added Gubbins.
“I think what he and Haseeb have done during the winter is great for all the young guys coming through. They were chosen for Tests because they had performed in county cricket, and that gives every young player the confidence that it can be done.”
Middlesex began their defence of the Specsavers County Championship with a hard-fought draw away at Hampshire over the Easter weekend but, starting on Friday, are back at Lord’s where Essex – and the in-form Alastair Cook – are the visitors.
Neil Wagner, the New Zealand fast bowler, was another stand-out performer in Essex’s victory at Somerset last weekend, but Middlesex captain James Franklin is confident his side will be all the better for their run-out at the Ageas Bowl.
Franklin said: “We weren’t at our best by any stretch against Hampshire. We were a bit rusty in all departments and we have a lot to improve on. The good thing is we showed resilience, and we came out of the game relatively unscathed.”