Jaik Mickleburgh hopeful of strong season for Essex after winter success in Australia

Jaik Mickleburgh in batting action for Essex at the Essex County Ground, Chelmsford, Essex. Picture:

Jaik Mickleburgh in batting action for Essex at the Essex County Ground, Chelmsford, Essex. Picture: Nick Wood/Action Plus - Credit: Nick Wood/Action Plus

Bungay batsman Jaik Mickleburgh is hoping his winter of hard work in Australia will lead to a better season with Essex.

The 24-year-old former Horsford and Norfolk ace had a mixed 2014 with his club, playing for both the first and second team at Chelmsford.

The former England Under-19 international had finished the 2013 campaign as Essex's leading Championship run-scorer with 829, at an average of 41.25.

Prior to that season Mickleburgh played in Zimbabwe during the close-season and enjoyed the benefits – but wasn't able to do so ahead of the 2014 season, and felt that had a negative effect on his game. So this winter he flew Down Under, in a bid to rediscover his touch for Essex.

'I was in Sydney playing for North Sydney Cricket Club, which is a really nice club just north of the harbour bridge and had a really good time, and actually did really well for them,' Mickleburgh told BBC Essex.

'It was good to go away, obviously it was a little bit disappointing for me last year but it was good to go away and spend some time working on my game as well as have the opportunity to score runs in games at weekends. I did that, so I'm ready to go now.

'I felt like I had a good season the year before and because of one thing or the other, I stayed at home last winter and probably didn't get enough cricket under my belt. So that's one of those things that happen, you learn from it and I feel like I'm ready to go this year.'

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Mickleburgh was playing Sydney Grade Cricket for North Sydney and scored 667 runs in 12 innings, at an average of 60.64. An unbeaten 142 on his debut was followed by seven half-centuries during a productive spell Down Under.

Now he wants to reproduce that form in England, adding: 'You look round the squad and we've actually got quite a small squad this year, so it's times for the likes of myself, Tommy (Westley), Nick Browne obviously having a really good season last year, we're going to be the core players in the team and you need our energy in the team to produce results for Essex.'

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