Time-tight Higgs happy for Ponting to call shots
Despite being name coach, Mark Higgs is under no illusions as to who will be running the show during the Prime Minister's XI on Tuesday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Mark Higgs is the coach but Ricky Ponting will be the boss when the Prime Minister's XI plays the West Indies at Manuka Oval on Tuesday.
Also, with most of his players arriving in Canberra less than a day before the big match, Cricket ACT stalwart Higgs admits his duties will be limited to making sure the players are in the right place at the right time.
Higgs will take the PM's XI coaching reins for the third consecutive year with Ponting and Brad Haddin set to take on Chris Gayle and the Twenty20 world champion West Indies.
But with minimal preparation time, Higgs is happy for Ponting to call most of the shots.
''It's a funny one. It's hard to have a real impact on the players [as a coach] but I think it's about creating an environment where they can play their best in a short time period,'' Higgs said.
''There is a lot more hoopla with the Prime Minister and organisation … I'll have a catch-up with Ricky on Monday.
''It will be one of those things where I create the environment and he runs it.
''I'm sort of run under his wing; we'll go through some basic plans and then he'll take over on game time.''
Higgs teamed with Ponting earlier this month to try to help the Hobart Hurricanes into the Twenty20 Big Bash League finals.
Higgs made his debut for the Hurricanes in the last regular-season match and finished with figures of 0-20 off his two overs.
But his visit did not give him a chance to catch up with Ponting about plans for the PM's XI game.
Instead Higgs has kept his focus closer to home with former Queanbeyan teammate Jono Dean and 12th man Nick Winter.
Dean has been picked to open the batting against speedster Kemar Roach.
It is the perfect chance for the ACT Comets captain to press his claims to take the next step in Australian cricket and chase a state contract.
Higgs wants the big-hitting Dean to unleash his powerful game on the West Indies.
''It would be easy to put the Canberra boy down at No.6 or No.7 in batting line-up, but he's an opener and he's been picked as an opener,'' Higgs said.
''For Jono, he plays his best cricket in that position and he can be potent and at his stroke-playing best there.
''His real asset is being able to strike the ball at the top of the order so the big thing is to get a bit of bowling with some pace at him, so he can get a bit of early practice in.''
Higgs might be on the sideline for the PM's XI game, but his brief taste of Big Bash action has the veteran all-rounder keen for more.
He came out of retirement to chase a deal with a team and was picked up by the Hurricanes.
He played just one game, but Higgs ''would jump at the chance'' if given the same opportunity next season.