Norfolk duo Jaik Mickleburgh and Callum Taylor fired up for new season with Essex

Jaik Mickleburgh and Callum Taylor at Essex County Cricket Club's media day. Picture: Su Anderson

Jaik Mickleburgh and Callum Taylor at Essex County Cricket Club's media day. Picture: Su Anderson - Credit: Su Anderson

Norfolk duo Jaik Mickleburgh and Callum Taylor are feeling full of confidence ahead of the start of the new season with Essex.

Mickleburgh has been in fine form during pre-season, scoring back-to-back centuries last week, and is keen to get on with County Championship action.

The former Topcroft and Horsford batsman, originally from Bungay, is hoping to be involved when Gloucestershire arrive at Chelmsford on Sunday for the first four-day game of the year.

'I had a good winter in the off-season away in Sydney so it was good to get back on pre-season tour with the boys in Dubai, where I felt like a played really well, I'd been hitting the ball well,' the 26-year-old said.

'And then to come back into this country and continue that form, it's been a good pre-season.

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'I was playing for North Sydney,' Mickleburgh added. 'I played there last year and was captain, so I've felt like I've hit the ball well all winter and continued that when I've come back.'

The former Bungay High School pupil scored 410 runs in 10 matches with North Sydney, with a highest score of 107 and an average of 37.27. Now he hopes to help Essex improve on their third-place finish in Division Two last year.

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'We finish the season well every year, we know that, so it's a case of we have got to go out and start well,' Mickleburgh said.

'There's no hiding from that and if we, the first five or six games, get off to a good start then we will be very confident that we'll win the league.

'There's a few crucial games early on which we have to win against teams that will be there or thereabouts, so we've got to go and win those games and put ourselves in a strong position.'

Taylor approaches the season looking to force his way into the first team after a successful winter with the England U19s for the former Cromer High pupil – which could start with the Essex second XI in a friendly against his former Norfolk team-mates in a friendly on Sunday.

'I think this year, now my winter has gone really well and I'm feeling confident,' the 18-year-old said.

'It's a case of doing it in the games and trying to get into the first team.'

Keep an eye on the Eastern Daily Press next week for more on the Norfolk duo's hopes for the new campaign.

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