Gareth Cross made his debut in the 2005 season, but 2011 is set to mark a first full season of county cricket for the aggressive wicketkeeper batsman.
The 26 year-old has been a regular in the limited overs forms of the game for the Lightning, yet he has only played eleven County Championship matches in his career - seven of them last season.
Cross knows only too well that he has an important part to play with the gloves and bat following the departure of Luke Sutton back to Derbyshire, where he will captain the Division Two outfit.
But he also knows that, despite his lack of four day exposure, he will have a crucial role to play as one of the senior players in the squad.
And that is part of the reason why the Colwyn Bay club cricketer has recently been on a three day captaincy course at Loughborough alongside Red Rose team-mate Steven Croft.
He explained: “Me and Crofty didn’t go down there with the view to becoming the captain in the next year or two because there are a number of other experienced lads here. But we have lost a few senior figures from within the dressing room, and me and Crofty need to put our hands up.
“People like Chris Adams and Mike Gatting were there, so it was good to get their thoughts. It helped me because I’m going to have to be talking to the bowlers this season with me being behind the stumps.”
Senior players of note to have left the club in the last three years include the likes of Sutton, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Law, Mal Loye, Dominic Cork and Iain Sutcliffe, alongside a whole raft of overseas players.
And Cross also pointed to Tom Smith as one of those players in the same bracket as himself and Croft.
He continued: “Over the last couple of years a lot has been said about people like Steven Croft and Tom Smith being younger players. But they’re not younger players now because they’ve established themselves in the first team.
“They need to take their chance to get 1,000 runs or 50 wickets. And, if I got below 700 runs from No.7, I’d be really disappointed.”
Despite his determination to perform and cement his place as the undisputed No.1 wicketkeeper at Old Trafford, Cross admitted that the course did make him think about the possibility of captaining his county at some point in the future.
“I really enjoyed doing it in the second team two years ago when we got to a couple of finals,” he added. “It’s something that I enjoy doing because it gives me a responsibility.
“There were a few other captains on this course. Rory Hamilton-Brown from Surrey and Phil Mustard from Durham were there, and it was good to get their views on their first year in the job. It didn’t make me think ‘I don’t want to do that’.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh