Wayne Madsen says he is in a good state of mind since stepping down as four-day Captain and is hoping to continue his good early-season form this week at Northampton.
The 32-year-old has scored 274 runs in three Specsavers County Championship fixtures, including 97 last time out following his 150 versus Gloucestershire in the opening fixture of the season.
His good start to the campaign follows three successive seasons of passing 1,000 first-class runs and having decided to stand down as captain at the start of the campaign, Madsen believes he is in an even better frame of mind to score runs.
Madsen said: “I am very relaxed, since having stepped aside from the captaincy I almost feel like a little kid again.
“There’s still pressure from batting but it’s different. I’ve got slightly less to worry about although I’m still a leader in the team and have the responsibilities of being a senior player.
“I do have less pressure and it’s definitely relaxed me in the team environment and I can feel it in my cricket as well.
“For me, there’s a lot more focus now on my batting. I’ve played well in the last few years but there’s more focus now on my skills and not the other stuff that comes with the captaincy.
“There’s definitely less on my mind and I’m also relaxed when I’m out there at the crease. When you’re more relaxed and comfortable, it breeds confidence and that’s what’s happened at the start of the season for me.”
Madsen is now qualified to play for England and makes no secret of his ambition to play at the highest level.
He added: “I feel in good nick and playing well, I want to be pushing for an international call up and that’s a big driver for me. Part of the reason why I gave up the captaincy was I wanted to focus on my batting to take it to the next level and my cricket to the next level.
“That’s pretty much what my intention is and now I’ve got to back it up with the weight of runs. I’ve started well but now I’ve got to continue.”
And Elite Performance Director Graeme Welch believes Madsen is a serious contender. He said: “Not many people realise how good a player Wayne Madsen is. I’ve been saying for the last year or two that there aren’t many better in the country and I think England could do a lot worse than have a look at him.”
Derbyshire CCC Membership for 2016 is on sale. Purchase online at derbyshireccc.com, in person at The 3aaa County Ground or by calling 0871 350 1870.