Toby Lester admits he sometimes has to pinch himself when he looks around the star names in the Lancashire dressing room.
The Poulton left-armer didn’t play a first team game for the Red Rose in 2017 but did have a major role in the club’s Second XI title success.
He will certainly have fierce competition if he’s to make a breakthrough this summer but the 25-year-old is determined to make the most of sharing a dressing room with Jimmy Anderson, new signing Graham Onions and being coached by another Lancashire great with the ball, Glen Chapple.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better really,” said the seamer.
“Watching these guys on TV and going to games and watching them when I was younger, you have to pinch yourself to believe you’re actually in the same changing room as them now.
“You’ve just got to try and take as much as you can from them and just keep learning.
“Everyone’s battling for spots in the side but with the experience they have, you’d be stupid not to pick their brains about it.”
Having taken 22 wickets in nine appearances for the second string last summer, Lester now wants to make his mark with the first team having last played in the County Championship in 2016.
“The squad this year is extremely strong in both batting and bowling,” he said.
“It’s just stringing performances together in the second team, keeping your skill set up with white and red ball and waiting for your chance.
“Then if you do get that chance you’ve got to take it with both hands.
“Competition for spots is healthy in any squad.
“It’s such a strong squad. It would be unbelievable to get a chance in there and hopefully I can do.”
Strength in numbers will be key if Chapple’s men are to challenge on all three fronts.
Last summer saw the Red Rose finish as runners-up in Division One of the County Championship but fail to get out of the group stage in both the T20 Blast and the Royal London One Day Cup.
“A county such as Lancashire we want to be winning most things really,” said Lester.
“Finishing second in Division One last year we’ve got a lot to take into this season.
“The aim is to do a lot better in white ball cricket too because we have got such a strong squad with a wide skill range.
“We’ve got players who can adapt to any sort of situation.”
Lester has prepared for the new campaign with a short stint Down Under with North Sydney before Lancashire’s pre-season trip to Dubai.
“I went over to Australia for my second season and unfortunately I broke my thumb after a couple of games so I had to come back early,” he said.
“I couldn’t wait to get back out there. I did alright in my first season and they wanted me back.
“It’s good to get experience of what’s it like on different pitches with balls that don’t really swing. You have to keep learning all the time.”
Closer to home Lester and team mate Steven Croft will again be available to Lytham in the Liverpool Competition when not on county duty in 2018.
“It’s a good club to be at,” the left-armer said.
“Whenever we get chance to go and play for Lytham it’s a good opportunity to get some good overs under your belt.
“If you’re bowling well you’ve got to keep your form up and you don’t want too many days off if you’ve got a good rhythm going.
“It’s good to have that option on a Saturday. It’s a good squad and the Liverpool Comp is a really good competition to be in.
“I’ve played around quite a few of the club leagues and it’s up there with the best.”