There must be something special about April batting conditions that appeals to Essex batsman Jaik Mickleburgh.
Last year, he scored his maiden first-class century when taking 174 off the Durham attack at Riverside. That was on April 15, and twelve months and a few days on, the 21 year-old was celebrating his second hundred in an Essex sweater when he scored 112 against Northants at Wantage Road – figuring in a second wicket stand of 258 with England batting star Alastair Cook, who made 155.
To put that partnership, and the two batsmen’s contributions into context, Essex have been so desperately short of runs this season that their highest total in four Championship innings going into the match was 227.
Mickleburgh admitted that the team had been concerned with their below-par batting performances. “One of the problems this season has been that we haven’t been scoring enough first innings runs,” he said. ”The Tiflex ball was been nibbling around a bit in our first two games, but we can’t use that as an excuse.
“We said before the game at Northampton that we needed someone to get us a hundred. Now two of us have achieved that here and given us a good start to the match.
Mickleburgh spent four months during the winter Down Under at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy and believes he has returned suitably enriched. “It was a superb experience for me and I really benefitted,” said the youngster.
“I felt my preparation for this season was good and I’ve felt I’ve been in good nick all season really but after the disappointments of those first two matches, it was a good opportunity to get in at Northampton and get some runs. Batting with Cookie was brilliant, he keeps you going and focussing on every ball.
“Although we’ve had a couple of disappointing matches, the spirit amongst the boys has been terrific and we know that we are a lot better side than our performances have shown in the first two matches. We’ve just got to dig in and we are confident that we will turn things around.”