While a number of England batsman have shown themselves to be distinctly uncomfortable against top-class spin bowling this winter, one young Essex batsman has taken steps to familiarise himself with the potential problems caused by that particular bowling art.
Jaik Mickleburgh visited India last month with his county colleague, leg spinner Tom Craddock and said: “It was a great experience to go there and see how the Indian batsmen prepare to play spin and then watch them carry that out.
“They lead the world in how to play spin and both Tom and I were able to spend a lot of time in practice and learn a few things which hopefully will be able to introduce into our own games.
“We don’t face too much top-class spin bowling over here so it was good to be able to look at all aspects of spin bowling on different types of wickets, some that didn’t turn, some that turned quite a bit and look at the type of approach needed to deal effectively with those varying wickets. It was a real eye-opener and I believe that we’ve both come back better players.”
Since returning to England, the 21-year-old has been spending time at Chelmsford working on his fitness ahead of the new season although the club’s pre-season does not officially start for a couple more weeks.
“A few of the lads have been around and we’ve got a new strengthening and conditioning coach plus a new physio at Essex so there’s been a few different theories they’ve been putting into practice,” added the Norwich-born batsman. “The lads that are around have been working hard with them to ensure we are fully-tuned up for the start of the season.
“We’ve had a decent squad for a couple of years now but I think it’s time we really started to kick on and start to win a lot more games to meet our goal of winning trophies. Personally, my priority is to secure my place in the four-day side although there’s a lot of competition for places. The time in India, though, also gave me time to work on my one-day game and a few more options for playing that form of cricket.
“I want to be considered for a place in every game in all competitions and that’s going to be my target for this year.”