Suffolk batsman Tom Huggins is under no illusions about the challenge ahead if he is to repeat his form of last summer in the coming season.
The 31-year-old opener won the Wilfred Rhodes Trophy for the highest individual batting average in the whole of the Minor Counties Championship — the first Suffolk batsman to win the award for 34 years.
Huggins scored 751 runs with three centuries and three 50s at an average of 83.44 as Suffolk finished second in the Eastern Division behind Cambridgeshire.
The Bury St Edmunds skipper said: “I am not going into this season thinking I am going to repeat what I achieved last year.
“I had a lot of luck and played reasonably well and was in form for a reasonable amount of time.
“I have played long enough to know how the game goes and my form is not always going to be like that.
“I will be going out to bat thinking about what I do best and if I can do my processes well the results will hopefully follow, but even last year I never went into games believing I was going to score runs.
“I was just thinking about each ball one at a time, whether I was batting or bowling, because if you get too far ahead the game has a habit of biting you on the backside.
“I have performed consistently since I started playing for Suffolk, apart from in 2012 when I had a dreadful season, but last year the luck went my way and my form continued.”
Huggins is not fazed by the prospect that he may be singled out by opposition bowlers in the light of his purple patch last summer.
“If bowlers target me, they target me,” he said. “Every bowler is trying to get you out, so in my mind it is no different.
“I open the batting and bowlers come hard at you from the first ball.
“That is part and parcel of the game.
“As a batsman, any ball can get you out.
“I can only play the balls that are delivered to me and I will not have any extra expectations this season.
“Sometimes as a batsman it works out for you and sometimes it doesn’t, but when I am in form I will try to stay in form.”
It was not all plain sailing last summer for Huggins, who had a dip in form after a solid start to the season, before experiencing a real purple patch that lasted throughout the second half of the summer.
He said: “When I am out of form there are two or three areas of my game that I look at.
“I usually spend a few minutes with the bowling machine and coach Bobby Flack who knows what I am looking for because he knows my game and he can guide me.
“It can take 10-15 minutes hard work — it is a case of quality, not quantity, and staying focused to find the problem before hopefully correcting it.”
Suffolk play their opening Unicorns Knockout Trophy game against Hertfordshire at Ipswich School on Sunday (11am).
n Ellie Steggles, a pupil at Bury St Edmunds’ South Lee School, will captain Suffolk Girls Under-13s for the first time when they face their counterparts from Essex on Sunday.