After featuring regularly in the County Championship last season, young Essex batsman Jaik Mickleburgh spoke to Jon Waring about 2012 being a “big year” for both him and the club.
Ideally, where would you like to be batting this season?
There are a few lads away at the IPL at the moment, like Owais [Shah] and Ryan [ten Doeschate], but I want to be batting regularly in the top four. I’m aiming to score runs early on so I can set the tone for the rest of the season, so it’s a big couple of weeks for me personally and hopefully I can start off well and impress some people. I’ve changed a few things technically which I think I needed to, and I feel like I’ve developed as a batsman. It’s going to be a big year for me and I’m really looking forward to it.
You say you’ve been working on your technique, and you’ve had Graham Gooch here developing your game. How much of a loss was it for him to move into the England setup?
It was a big loss because the experience he had was massive. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done with me and I’m sure all the other boys would say exactly the same thing. But Walks [Matt Walker] has come in and he’s done a great job so far, so that’s been brilliant. He’s taken the role over just as well as Goochie did which is a great credit to him. Hopefully we can continue to keep working hard together and make sure it pays off over the course of the season.
There are a number of talented young players in and around the side, does this help to create a good team spirit?
Definitely, there’s a great vibe here. There are a lot of younger players around including myself, but this year we’ve also got a number of senior, more experienced players as well. Alviro [Petersen] coming in for the first part of the season has given us some international class, and the signings of Charl Willoughby and Greg Smith have also been great for the team. Having the young players around keeps the energy of the side up, and there’s good competition for places across the board, which is really important.
Will you be looking to learn from Alviro?
As a batsman you’re always looking to learn off experienced players and with him being a Test player he’s obviously top of the tree and at the peak of his game at the moment. Myself and all the other young batsmen will be looking to learn as much as we can from him during his time here. We played against him a couple of times last year and he was very impressive to say the least, so it’s great to have him around.
What is the team hoping to achieve this year?
The primary aim is promotion to Division One of the County Championship. That’s where the best cricket is played and we all want to be testing ourselves at that level and playing the best we can. We want to win a one-day trophy as well, so all the practice and preparation we do is mainly focused on achieving those two goals.
Last season Essex were tipped as potential T20 winners but couldn’t deliver. Do you think you can go on and win it this year?
I do, we’ve got players in our side that have a lot of Twenty20 experience and there’s also a few of us youngsters who maybe haven’t had much of an opportunity, but feel we’re good enough to perform and would relish the opportunity to do so. We’ve got a great balance to the side in all cricket and we think we can perform consistently well. This is going to be a big year for us, and if we could win the Twenty20 competition then it would be fantastic.
Click here to read an interview with Essex seamer David Masters