Getting in on the action
Posted in England Performance Programme
We set off from Mohali on November 29, with another man down as Tim Bresnan had to return to England because of back problems, leaving us with just 12 players.
We were lucky enough to be able to get into the Jet Airways lounge at the airport where we were given free food and drinks. We spent the time chilling out with our ipods (Matchbox 20 and The Calling in case you were wondering) and playing on our PSPs.
We arrived at our four-star hotel in Chennai with a very extensive menu of pasta, pizza, club sandwiches, burgers, steaks and even fish and chips, which is keeping the lads very happy indeed. It's made it easier to socialise as we now all eat together downstairs and as a result we're really beginning to gel as a team.
The next day we were introduced to the three Under-19 lads who have joined us. Billy Godleman, Steve Finn and James Harris have arrived to bolster the squad and to gain some valuable experience on the sub-continent.
I haven't seen that much of them out here yet, but from what I have seen they look to be good cricketers. Steve played in our first game and did fairly well, taking a few wickets.
The focus of the camp has changed now we're in Chennai. In Mohali we mainly worked on our individual preparation, but not game-oriented skills. We had a lot of net practices and worked a lot on our own batting and bowling.
This section is more focused on match-based preparation and looking at skills which will benefit us in matches. The training has eased off as well - it's less intense than it was, so there's a little more downtime. I was hoping to spend a bit of time by the pool, but the rain has put a stop to that. It reminds me of the summer we've just had.
It should be hotter here in Chennai, but the rain has brought the temperature down quite a bit. It's still humid, but I think I'm coping quite well with that and, touch wood, I haven't had any sickness either.
Our first game started on Sunday against an MRF XI. The MRF Academy is where we're training here in Chennai and the players on the academy made up our opposition.
There were a couple of good seamers in the side and the wicket did a little for them. They also had a decent off-spinner who got a few wickets. We batted all day on day one finishing on 358 for four, with Trotty (Jonathan Trott) and Hildy (James Hildreth) both scoring centuries.
The second day was rained off, so we went to a gym for a session which was really beneficial. On day three we took to the field and our seamers bowled exceptionally well, taking out their top-order batters.
I have been working on a couple of things with my action with Ashley Giles and it is coming on, so I tried a few things in the first innings. I didn't bowl as well as I'd have liked and that could be to do with the conditions. I was bowling with the wind and I'd have preferred to bowl against it really, but it's all experience. We got them all out for 121.
We had the opportunity to let them bat again, but the team and management decided it would be better to have another bat, keeping the openers Joe (Denly) and Steve (Davies) the same, but changing the rest of the order, pushing Dilly (Adil Rashid) up to three and me up to four.
The outfield was extremely slow so when you played decent shots through the infield, the ball didn't travel. We batted for just over an hour - it was great to get out in the middle and play in a match situation and produce some runs. I made 43 before we declared.
I felt better in the second innings and bowled well, taking the only two wickets of the innings. I didn't overly think about things. I bowled straight and consistently and overall am pleased with my performance. It was good to get a bat and get some runs in the second innings.
We finished with a draw because of the rain, but am sure we'd have won if rain hadn't intervened.
David Graveney came over from Sri Lanka to watch the game, which was great for us. He spoke to all the lads, making us aware that the programme we're on is really important to the ECB and that if there is a problem in Sri Lanka, we're next in line to go over there and play for England. It's brilliant to see that kind of support.
We headed out for a team meal to the Taj Hotel after the match, which was great as we haven't really had many opportunities to do that. We had a drink and a bit of team-bonding.
It was good to let off a bit of steam, but the rain has affected most of our plans. We had the chance to go to the beach and do a bit of sunbathing but, with the weather like it is, it wasn't the best idea. With the Test match on between England and Sri Lanka, most of the lads are happy to stay in and watch that.
We've got a couple more days of training before a four-day game next week and then we head home.