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Raring to go after frustrating winter

Posted in Domestic Cricket

James Harris

I have had a very strange winter, but can't wait for the new season to begin

Well here we are hurtling towards another summer and amazingly this will be my sixth season as a first-class cricketer; I can tell you I feel a lot older than 21.

For me personally this has been a very strange winter and one that has been very stop-start.

In late October I was headed to Loughborough looking forward to a prosperous winter and one where I could attempt to further my game and hopefully catch the eye of the selectors.

As it turned out the groin injury that ended my season two weeks early last year hadn't fully settled down, which forced me to have a winter off the field.

Although I managed to go to Potchefstroom with the England Performance Programme to do a strength and conditioning block pre-Christmas, entering the new year I was still not 100% fit.

This carried on until the start of February when I then went under the knife to have a double hernia repair. Spending the majority of the winter doing rehab and in the gym has really brought back the 'fire in the belly', so to speak, for the start of the coming season.

With the seasons seeming to start earlier and earlier each year, preparations down at the SWALEC Stadium have been going on for quite a while. Since the start of the year all of the lads that stayed home instead of going abroad to play cricket have been in working on their game.

This particular winter the programme set by the coaching staff has included many specialist sessions working on specifics, including, the 'Earl of Twirl' (Robert Croft) spin masterclass, and also the 'Ace of Pace' (Simon 'Racehorse' Jones) reverse swing school. Needless to say there were not to many lads queuing up to face Simon in the indoor school!

There were also various sessions with some former players being brought in to share their experiences in the game.

As we edge closer to the first game there are always the very pleasurable pre-season fitness tests which all the lads must endure. Our particular tests include a yo-yo test (similar to a bleep test), a five-minute run on the treadmill where you must run as far as possible, 50 lengths of a 25-metre pool, sprint and jump tests, along with tests in the gym consisting of a max bench press, squat and max chin-ups with 10kg extra attached to you. Quite a taxing couple of days indeed.

There is not really one guy who is a master of all the tests. Gareth Rees will tell you that he is the fittest all round, but I’m sorry to say his chicken legs tend to hold him back in a few of the tests.

Being stuck in the indoor school all winter can often be tough, and with the seasons starting so early nowadays it can often be tough to get enough quality outdoor practice and the feel for playing on grass again.

For this reason the ability to go on a pre-season tour is invaluable. This year we are all headed to La Manga in Spain for a team building/fitness fielding camp, where we will also have the opportunity to work on our core skills.

We will then be returning to the UK to start our pre-season matches before our first LV= County Championship fixture begins on April 5 against Leicestershire.

I'm going to attempt to blog throughout this season so I can keep you all up to date with the goings on inside the dressing room as well as all the news from sunny South Wales.

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