Batsman Jordan Clark is aiming to do all he can to make the most of being given a full-time place in Lancashire's senior squad.
He has started by choosing a tough schedule of winter work in the Old Trafford nets instead of a spell in Zimbabwe.
The 21 year-old Cumbrian right-hander, the latest product of the club’s Academy system to sign professional terms with the Red Rose county, was offered the chance to play first-class cricket in Africa this winter.
But, instead of joining Paul Horton and a number of other English players in Zimbabwe, Clark preferred to improve his game under the watchful eye of coach Peter Moores and the rest of the coaching staff.
“Last year I made the choice to stay in England with the help and direction of a few of the coaches,” said Clark, who signed his first professional deal shortly after the conclusion of the 2011 season. “That was the same this year as well. We’ve been in training three or four days a week since mid-November.
“I had the chance to go away to Zimbabwe, but I turned that down because I felt that last year was so beneficial to me. I wanted to replicate that. It was an individual choice. I spoke to Peter Moores about it, and he was quite happy to let me do what I felt was best for me.
“Last year went so well for me, which I put down to pre-season, so I thought I’d do it again.
“It was a month or two month’s worth in Zimbabwe, but I felt that I’d benefit more by being here and being involved with the team spirit of our staff.”
After making his first-team debut in 2010 – against Worcestershire in a Clydesdale Bank 40-over match at Liverpool – Clark went on to play three more times in that format last summer as well as nine times in the Friends Life t20 competition, which brought him 127 runs from eight innings.
He very nearly turned the Roses match against Yorkshire at Headingley on its head with a blistering 38 off 18 balls, including three fours and two sixes, which helped the Lightning recover from 137-9 in pursuit of 179 to win. The visitors fell only 12 runs short of their target.
“It was an aim to get a few games in, but I never thought I'd play as many as I did,” said Clark of his first-team chances in 2011. “I remember I had a review at the end of last season with Peter, and he basically said 'you need to get some runs under your belt early and then there's a lot less pressure'.
“That ended up working out. I got a few hundreds in the seconds, which helped me along.
“Once you do well once, it doesn't seem too hard. You don't feel like a fish out of water. It's something you can then strive to get better at. My aim is to carry on playing first-team cricket.”
Clark’s aim is to not only play more first-team cricket in 2012, but he wants some of it to be in the County Championship.
Inspired by his team-mates’ title success, he wants to join them as a title winner.
He added: “It was a massive thrill to see the lads win the Championship. It took a while for me to appreciate how much it means to the club and the lads. I just wish I had been a part of the four-day stuff.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play four-day cricket. I'm in the first year of my contract, but my aim is to play four-day cricket this year as well as more one-dayers and Twenty20s.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd