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Fires, rapids and Merlyn

Posted in England Performance Programme

James Taylor

It was nice to be challenged in a different way and it improved me as a person

I have been on a few England Performance Programmes but the first half of this winter's camp upped the ante once more.

You think you know what you are getting yourself into but being on the EPP tests you in different ways, whether it's fitness and cricket or other things like media relations or presentation techniques.

A couple of weeks ago we spent time away from cricket in north Wales where we were taught different techniques of saving people in rivers. I'm not the strongest swimmer and those rapids were a real challenge. It was a real test but good fun.

We then spent some time in Manchester with the fire service. We were fully kitted out including oxygen tanks, put in a house full of smoke and told to find dummies. We also got to cut up a car too as if it had been involved in an accident. It was tough work and you certainly respect what the firemen have to do.

It was nice to be challenged in a different way and it definitely improved me as a person.

After that it was nice to get back to the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough to put the finishing touches on our preparations before going to India.

I've been working a lot with Graham Thorpe on Merlyn. This trip is going to have a massive emphasis placed on batting against spin. English batsmen haven't done too well in the past when it comes to scoring in the middle overs against slow bowling.

I've been trying to find my scoring zones and work on weak areas against spin. It's important to use your feet to get down the wicket and your hands to manipulate the ball. The conditions could be quite extreme in India, with the ball turning and bouncing, or it might keep low.

This will be the longest I have been in India. I went there for the Champions League with Leicestershire in September and although we didn't do too well, I learnt a lot about the conditions.

I want to know a bit more about myself in foreign conditions. I also want to show the selectors that I can score runs against spin. I feel I am on the fringe of the England squad and had a taster when I made my debut in Ireland. It was a great experience being in that environment and it was an honour to get my first cap.

The next challenge is to get back in the side. To do that I need to show I can score runs in different conditions. I will have to rack up the runs both on this trip and on the Lions tour to Bangladesh after Christmas.