Jaik Mickleburgh ready for new County Championship challenge after leaving Essex
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An interesting off-season awaits for Norwich-born batsman Jaik Mickleburgh this winter, after ending his long association with Essex CCC.
The 26-year-old former Bungay High School pupil is now a free agent and looking for a move which will benefit his career, with 101 matches and 4,978 runs in first-class cricket already to his name.
After helping Essex win the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title, scoring 650 runs in 15 innings, Mickleburgh believes he has plenty to offer his next club.
'I look back at how many games I've played at 26 years old and there's quite a few there, 101 first class,' the former England Under-19 international said. 'I'd like my average to be a lot higher but whoever signs me knows what they are going to get.
'Rather than signing a young guy who's inexperienced, who hasn't got a massive score. That's kind of where I'm sitting at the moment.'
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Mickleburgh may have struggled for consistency at times with Essex, as he often had to contend with the formidable presence of England captain Alastair Cook as his competition at the top end of the order.
But in amongst his statistics are 10 centuries, 21 half-centuries and a high score of 243 – proving there is plenty of ability available to a club which can allow the former Horsford and Topcroft player to flourish.
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For now though, he is enjoying some time back home with family in the Bungay area, rather than playing through the winter in Australia.
'I'm speaking with a few counties at the moment, I've moved back this way for the time being,' Mickleburgh continued. 'I've been away to Sydney for the last couple of years so I feel like being in this country is a thing I have to do, a little bit of family time but if I have to go to a meeting with a county I need to be in the country.
'So I've made that decision and hopefully something comes of it in the next couple of months. I'm still very hopeful and I know that it's a little bit up in the air with the way the structure is going to go next year and counties are looking after their finances.
'I understand that and if it's a case of someone signing me on the first of January then obviously I'll be happy to do that, but in the next month or so I'll know a lot more.'
He is relishing the chance of a change of scenery however, leaving Essex with lots of good memories.
'A lot of other players have left Essex and been successful,' he added. 'We've got a very good environment at the club and the players I've spoken to that have left have said that even though Essex is your home club and where you've grown up and been for so long, it's actually exciting that I can go and put, not the mistakes, but the reasons that I haven't stayed at Essex behind me and then put them into place. That's quite an exciting challenge.
'It's not until you have that, I guess, from speaking to other players, that you quite understand that. If that opportunity arises then I think that could be good for me and I think it will be.'