DESCRIBING Lancashire's wicket keeper batsman Alex Davies as a veteran seems strange when he is still only 26.

But 2021 marks a decade since the precocious teenager became the county's youngest one-day player when he made his debut against Glamorgan in August 2011, two days before his 17th birthday.

This season will see him playing a vital role, batting at the top of the order and remaining a lively presence behind the stumps in all formats as Lancashire look to challenge for silverware throughout England's new look County Championship.

"I'm feeling really confident and I think the team looks in good shape," said Davies, who scored 61 in Lancashire's opening four day draw with visitors Sussex. "I feel like I'm playing really well and I've been wanting the season to start for a couple of weeks. There's only so much work you can do indoors and I feel like I'm hitting the ground running."

"I feel like one of the older, more experienced heads around these says which is a little bit scary at times. We've got some really good youngsters coming through and the experienced ones among us should be looking to lead those players."

Davies helped compile a partnership of 91 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Dane Vilas and he admits the South African's influence on the side is crucial.

"Dane is a fantastic captain," said Davies. "Since he joined us in 2017 he has been a great leader in our dressing room and retaining his services was massive for us."

Davies, who played club cricket for his hometown Darwen, has always been open about his ambitions to play for England, but has faced stiff competition in an era where English cricket was blessed with successful batsman-keepers, not least his Lancashire teammate Jos Buttler.

Alex Davies in pre-season action for Lancashire

Alex Davies in pre-season action for Lancashire

"Keeping is very important to me but the bulk of my job is to get runs on the board if I'm opening in all formats and it has to be my priority," he said. "I feel like my T20 batting has come on a lot in the last few years. It was a different kind of year last year with no crowds but it was a really good season in that we had a really young and inexperienced side and managed to get to finals day. We just fell at the last hurdle but if we can keep doing what we've done a lot over the last ten years and play well in the group stage and push towards finals day, we can do what we haven't done many times and get over the line once we get there.

"Playing international cricket is still the number one ambition of mine and I've spoken quite openly in the past about pushing on and fulfilling my dream.

"It comes back to getting older: I used to strive for it and it was at the forefront of my mind every single day. Nowadays I'm just taking one day at a time and not even thinking about it. I'm just focussing on the process at Lancashire and if those things are to happen they will just happen at some point down the line.

"I'm just going to take it run by run for Lancashire and ultimately if I put all those things in place further on it could happen but nowadays I don't use so much energy on thinking about it and just stay in the moment a bit more."

Despite being a multi-format opener and a wicket keeper, Davies shows little sign of being over-burdened with responsibility.

"It comes with experience," he said. "A few years ago I did struggle but the more you get to know what your gameplan is in each format it gets easier to swap. It helps that the games are in blocks and the schedule is a hell of lot easier than when I started when you could play a T20 game the day after a four day game."

The always competitive Davies often seems like he is in his element in front of a packed evening crowd at Emirates Old Trafford playing for Lancashire Lightning and he is relishing the return of fans to the ground.

"I can't speak for everybody but I'm definitely missing the crowds," he added. "Having them there definitely pushes you on, reminds you why you are playing and reminds you how many people are rooting for you.

"Once that competition is there or there is something in the game or there's a bit of needle I relish it but one thing that has changed is that I now have control of it.

"Maybe my reputation comes from when I was younger and I had no control: certain situations would arise and my emotions would get the better of me whereas now it's about using it to my advantage."