Jaik Mickleburgh targets success with Horsford

Jaik Mickleburgh believes Horsford have the batting power to win the East Anglian Premier League this year – and he is keen to help them achieve that goal.

The 22-year-old has been edged out of the Essex first team by the arrival of South African duo Alviro Petersen and Greg Smith, so has returned to club cricket to supplement his involvement with Essex's second team.

He made 86 in Horsford's opening day draw at Burwell and featured in a big second wicket stand with Matt Spenceley, who hit his maiden EAPL century. Mickleburgh said: 'We scored 200 which was a pretty good effort on a typical damp April club wicket. You can only play the conditions that are put in front of you and for Matt to bat as well as he did is a massive credit to him.

'We've got a very strong batting line-up now and hopefully we can win the league. It's a busy schedule with the Essex first team, but if I'm not involved I want to come back and play.

'I've played for Horsford for four or five years now but we've never won the league and I'd like to try and help us push for the championship.'

As well as his innings on Saturday, Mickleburgh made 58 for Essex II against Norfolk recently and added a half-century against a Durham II side featuring former England bowlers Steve Harmison and Liam Plunkett last week.

He hopes a continuation of that form will pave the way for a return to the Essex first team, having scored 793 first class runs for the county last summer: 'It is good competition for places at the moment and someone has to miss out with Alviro coming in,' said Mickleburgh. 'I am slightly disappointed, but it's only going to make me more hungry to go back to the second team and Horsford and score runs. Hopefully that will get me noticed – it only takes something like an injury for an opportunity to come up and if I can get my name in the hat, then it is about taking that opportunity when it comes.

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'I can only focus on my situation and my mind is definitely in the right place at the moment.

'I'm pretty confident I can get back in. If I do the right things and practice day in, day out and put the hours in, hopefully I will get my rewards by being back in the first team and enjoying success, both individually and as a team.'

Mickleburgh spent the winter months gaining a gym instructor's qualification and working towards his Level Two cricket coaching badge, before an intensive three-week coaching programme in India courtesy of former England opener Graham Gooch.

Gooch has now left his role as Essex batting coach to concentrate on his role with the England side and Mickleburgh said: 'I can't thank him enough for his support. He's not around the club as much now but he still supports us and he's always going to be there if we need him.

'Matt Walker has taken over as batting coach at Essex and he's been brilliant. He only finished playing for us last year so he knows our games and how to pick us up. It is exciting times at the club.'

Mickleburgh, who has taken on the added responsibility of captaining the Essex second team, believes the standard of the EAPL is ideal for keeping his batting skills polished: 'At Essex I think we could almost put out a team of first class players who have played in the EAPL and that speaks volumes for how strong it is,' he said. '