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Fit and ready to go

Posted in England Performance Programme

Despite the county season coming to an end a couple of months ago I have had an intense period of training to get myself ready for a month in India with the England Performance Programme.

The past couple of weeks have been spent at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough where I have undergone an intense regime - trying to work out what I need to develop for the tour ahead and looking into what my individual programme is going to be.

Bowling wise I have tried to keep bowling the lines that have been successful for me this year, especially in one-day cricket. I definitely feel I have got a little bit more consistency with my bowling.

But I have also been working at my batting, which is looking pretty good at the moment. Particularly I have been facing the short ball well and trying to get behind the ball a little bit better.

I think I am back to where I should be with my fitness now too. Obviously having two years out of the game, it has been difficult to come back into it fully fit. But I have had two and a half weeks of fitness sessions, which have been good.

I think it is going to be an interesting time for me in India. I have been to the subcontinent three times in my career. I first went on an England A team tour to Bangladesh in 2001 for two and a half weeks. Then I went to India with Surrey for pre-season for two weeks in January and two weeks in March earlier this year.

The conditions and pitches are different from traditional English ones. The ball does spin consistently. The pitches on which I have played before didn't really bounce a great deal, but the spin was consistent, which was good for me beating the bat and gave me a bit of confidence.

Ashley Giles is coming out with us to India, and it will be great to have someone on board who has a lot of spin-bowling experience with England. Although he is not actually a leg-spinner I feel that the knowledge I can get from Ashley will be invaluable.

Ashley has had a lot of success over the last couple of years. He has been out to India before, and other areas of the subcontinent, so his experience is vast. Hopefully I can take something from him away with me.

I don't know who else is going to be made available to us in India, but there will be some other spin coaches out there. India has produced some great spinners over the years and when I was in Mumbai with Surrey an Indian leg-spinner looked after me for the two and a half weeks I was there.

Harbhajan Singh gave me a lot of advice when he was over at Surrey for the three months he was at The Brit Oval. The advice he gave me was pretty good - telling me to focus on keeping consistent lines, try not to change it about too much and just try to work batters out.

It is going to be hard work but I am looking forward to the four weeks we are going to be spending in Chandigarh and Chennai. I shall be involved in a couple of games but I think the success for me will be just trying to bowl consistently.

What we have been talking about beforehand is trying to get the consistency with my line and length and not trying to bowl too many different deliveries.

If I do that and I take some wickets along the way, and maybe get some runs as well, hopefully I will come back and carry it on and people will say I have developed.

Of course I hope that would also keep me involved with the England set-up - that is my aim - maybe with the Twenty20s and possibly even with the one-day internationals.

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