Rest essential for England - Morris
Hugh Morris believes England’s players and staff will have benefited greatly from the period of rest that preceded their series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Prior to their arrival in Dubai at the beginning of this month, England had enjoyed a two-month break, having last been in action during a limited-overs tour of India in October.
With next week’s opening Test against Pakistan the first of 15 for Andrew Strauss’ side in 2012, and a host of important limited-overs assignments also scheduled, including the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, Morris admits time away from the field was crucial.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, the managing director of England cricket, said: “We definitely needed a break from the game. Having a block, for the first time in a number of years, was really important. I think everyone has recharged their batteries.
“The management team and the players, who are on tour all of the time, spend in the region of 240 to 250 nights a year in a hotel. Whilst it’s an absolute pleasure and privilege to play for England, or to represent England in some kind of way, it’s really important that the batteries are charged and this period has given us that opportunity.”
England’s players may have enjoyed some well-earned rest towards the end of last year, but Morris, along with team director Andy Flower, used the gap in the schedule to plan for the future.
“I’ve had several meetings with Andy,” he added. “We’ve met with the captains, and, away from cricket grounds or hotel rooms, it was really nice to spend some quality time together talking about the last six to 12 months, and really looking forward to the future as well.
“We all want to try and improve our performances all the time. We are searching out new targets and goals, and there are plenty lying ahead over the next four years or so.
“The exciting thing with the England team at the moment, and the management, is that they have got an insatiable appetite to try and improve themselves all the time ... in lots of different areas on and off the field.”
Morris is also encouraged by the amount of exciting young talent at England’s disposal, with a host of players having progressed through the ranks in recent years.
Commenting on the atmosphere within an increasingly competitive squad, Morris said: “I think we’ve got some outstanding role models within our senior players. I think that’s really important, so when the youngsters do come into the set-up, they are made to feel welcome, but they are challenged to be as good as they possibly can be as well. That’s really refreshing.
“There’s a very healthy competition among the players as well. I think the way the England team and our Performance Programme now work very closely together, in terms of the management and the development of players, is allowing us to grow our talent pool.
“We want to keep on doing it. Clearly there are some positions that we’ve got a lot of strength in depth, and others we want to try and work on.
“The way that we work now as a department, in identifying players at 16 and trying to take them through the system, is hopefully going to put us in a good position to sustain the success we’ve had over the last 18 months or so.”