Jaik Mickleburgh feeling refreshed for challenge of new campaign with Essex
- Credit: Nick Wood/Action Plus
Consistency is the main aim for Norwich-born batsman Jaik Mickleburgh this season.
The former Topcroft and Horsford player is beginning his ninth season with Essex but appreciates his form has been patchy in the last two seasons.
Mickleburgh top scored for Essex in the County Championship in 2013 with 829 runs, including a career-high score of 243 against Leicestershire.
The 26-year-old has struggled for fluency in the past two seasons though, scoring 431 runs last season to finish with a first class average of 21.55. He signed a new one-year deal at the end of 2015 though and is hoping to repay that faith.
'The last couple of seasons have been a bit up and down on a personal note,' the former Bungay High School pupil said.
'I've felt like I've played well in patches but not as consistent as I would have liked and then from a team point of view we've always been there or thereabouts.
'We've made a big conscious effort to start the season well and I think that's key again this year because we know we will always finish the back end of the season very strong.
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'Unfortunately we've been third the last couple of years so we've got to go and look to win Division Two.'
Despite a good winter in Australia with North Sydney – averaging 37.27 in 10 matches – and back-to-back centuries in friendlies for Essex, Mickleburgh was not selected for the opening four-day game against Gloucestershire.
That was largely due to the presence of England Test captain Alastair Cook for the first four matches of the season, taking one of the slots at the top of the order.
The Ashes winning star is one of the reasons there is plenty of positivity at Essex for the new season however, so Mickleburgh knows he must be patient.
'I don't tend to look too far ahead, I stay in the now and tick over that way,' he added. We've got a very good squad here this year, Cooky's going to be around a bit more and none of the boys have gone to the IPL.
'So going from having a smaller squad in previous years, to now a big squad, is going to make competition for places.
'I've been here a while, obviously coming through the system but time tends to fly when you're in a good environment. There's been a few changes at the club this year and it's been a real positive place to be around this pre-season.'