A tennis ball, a bed sheet and other tales from Ryan Higgins

A tennis ball, a bed sheet and other tales from Ryan Higgins

The annual media day is often a joyous affair with handshakes, excitable conversation and, most importantly, food.  

Things looked a little different, however, as the local press gathered at Gloucestershire’s Nevil Road last week: temperature checks on the gate, strict social distancing in place and no coffee or cake.  

But, in many ways, so much was the same: a group of eager cricketers, and they were all keen to get the season underway.  

One of those men was Ryan Higgins. 

The all-rounder has performed brilliantly since joining from Middlesex two seasons ago and played a vital role in Gloucestershire’s promotion from Division Two last summer.  

“We’ve been preparing since the start of July. It has been pretty weird and strange,” Higgins said when asked about his experiences since returning to training. 

“There isn’t as much socialising and each of us have a set arrival time to be at the ground; we sign in, get a temperature check and train with our bubble.  

“There are two bubbles at the club; we train separately and don’t really interact with the other bubble. You aren’t allowed to high five and have to wear gloves when fielding, so it is certainly very different. 

“It’s up to guys to be responsible with what they are doing to keep each other safe when we get to the ground.” 

The finances of counties have clearly been at the forefront of discussions around the return of cricket.  

Higgins admitted that he thought he would not get the opportunity to build on his first two years in the West Country, because of the financial concerns many counties face.  

“I thought the furlough scheme could throw a bit of a curveball in terms of whether we would play at all,” he explained.  

“The counties have used it as an opportunity to stay afloat, which is obviously really good for them, but I also thought it could mean there would be no cricket.  

“Financially the counties have done a great thing. Playing with no fans will cost them more money than they will make from it.” 

It is clear from chatting to the 25-year-old how much he loves the game. Often the answers he gives circle back to how relieved he is to be back playing.  

One of the motivations behind his move to Gloucestershire was because of a lack of red-ball opportunities. Some might have seen it as a risk at the time, but it has certainly paid off. 

His desire to improve has been further evident throughout lockdown.  

He outlined: “I setup my garage to train; it wasn’t great but allowed me to stay prepared and fit.  

“I used a tennis ball to bowl into a bed sheet hung in my garage and used the same sheet to practise my batting.  

“Other than that, it was a lot of fitness, running and body weights. Just doing what I could.” 

Higgins will be hopeful that the extra work he put in throughout the spring will help Gloucestershire to success, when they get their Bob Willis Trophy campaign underway against Worcestershire at Bristol on Saturday.  

For now, there will be no crowds in grounds and there will certainly be a different feel to matches, especially when the Blast starts at the end of the August. 

It is not something that worries Higgins, who believes the experience will not be too dissimilar to that of playing amateur cricket. 

He said: “For me, crowds have never really been a massive thing.   

“I always try to play at the same intensity; I have played Second XI Championship cricket where no one is really watching.

“Cricket is cricket and you can see that watching the Test series.  

“The only strange bit is when someone does really well. They are walking off the ground and no one is clapping.  

“But that is what Championship cricket is like most of the time, and T20 matches are going to be like professional cricket in an amateur environment, so I don’t think it will be too bad.” 

This cricket season will be one unlike we have seen before. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ will be crucial to all counties.

Higgins has shown he is willing to adapt throughout his career so far, and Gloucestershire will be hoping he can do the same in 2020.  


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.