Red Rose ready to go
Posted in Domestic Cricket
Hello and greetings from Dubai where me and the Lancashire boys are getting some pre-season games under our belts.
You can do all the training you want indoors throughout the winter but don't get a feel for what level you're at until you get outdoors in a match situation. Everyone's really enjoying being back out on grass.
I had a sore calf in the new year and missed a week of running out in Spain unfortunately - I was obviously devastated. On Twitter I kept seeing pictures of all the lads lying on the floor struggling to breathe so that kept me laughing to myself from the comfort of my own home. The calf is fine and good to go now.
Every single person at the club is keen to bounce back from the disappointment of last season and it's good that we've strengthened the squad, bringing in a couple of extra bowlers and Simon Katich. There's competition for places now across every Lancashire team in limited-overs cricket and four-day cricket, which is only going to be healthy for the squad.
It's good to cover all our bases and make sure everyone's desperate to play in the team. All the players we've brought in are capable of playing in the first team and that's how it should be.
Unfortunately not all the new lads will be with us from the start as Kabir Ali has picked up a knee injury. I played with him when I was at Worcestershire on loan in 2006 and also at the ECB National Academy with England in Australia back in the winter of 2002/03. If you look at his record, it's up there with some of the best bowlers in county cricket over the last 10 years.
I've played against Wayne White quite a lot. He's another nice guy who I think will fit in really well with the lads. He's a good bowler in general and in one-day cricket he's a hard-hitting batsman, the type of player that you really need down the order.
Simon Katich is your typical Australian batter - gritty, determined and loves scoring runs. Over the last few years we've probably fallen down a bit when it comes to posting big scores. Hopefully his experience can drag the other batters along.
Looking back over last season, because it went so well in 2011, we expected too much of ourselves and went away from what we did the previous season - doing the basics well day-in, day-out. Reflecting on it now, that probably hampered us quite a bit.
The Lancashire Way initiative, which I was involved with last year, has really taken off this winter. They've got some great ambassadors on board - Phil Neville, Joe Hart and Peter Reid from the football side as well as some people off TV. The foundation is progressing and getting bigger all the time and that's only going to be a good thing.
It's about developing The Emirates Old Trafford, using the facilities here and sport to help those who need it most. The other week was brilliant when we had lots of disabled and disadvantaged kids in.
Playing cricket with them and seeing the smiles on their faces is something that makes you realise what we do for a living is not actually that important, seeing how much fun they can have from just enjoying the game.
We had a few stations set up for fielding and batting drills. You could tell Phil Neville played to a good level with Lancashire as a youngster - he's a left-hander with good technique. Peter Reid was pretty funny trying to catch the ball. I don't think he caught one.