The excitement is really building within the squad for our pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi next week and more so for the start of the season next month. We can’t wait to get going.

The boys have been trickling back into training from being abroad over the last couple of weeks. There are a few who’ve come back with tans and the old mullet or two from Australia along with some good stories. 

It always comes around really quickly. One minute you feel like you’re right in the middle of pre-season and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you’re just gymming.

Then, all of a sudden, you’re into the skills work and are getting ready for a tour.

It makes training a heck of a lot easier when you have something to work towards and the season is close on the horizon. That happened in December when the fixtures were released, and then you settle back into the grind for a couple of months.

Having Leicestershire at home round one of the Championship is a good one for us. We’re looking at it as a way to get our own back after the start of last year because that was a tough loss for us.

It’s going to be a really exciting pre-season tour for us. 

I think there’s five counties going out to Abu Dhabi, and we have a three-day T20 comp thrown in there. The discussions have been around wanting to win that and get into the habit of winning tournaments as quickly as possible.

The tour will also be really good for me personally. Last year in Cape Town, I flew straight in from Australia and it was a bit of a strange time because I was trying to meet everyone and settle into a new environment. 

This time, there will be much more of an emphasis on the cricket now that I’m really settled here.

Myself and the rest of the bowlers will have to be smart with how we manage the switch from bowling indoors at Headingley to bowling out on grass again. 

Mickey Edwards

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Mickey Edwards celebrates dismissing Glamorgan’s David Lloyd at Headingley last season.

There’s an intensity to bowling out on grass that you just can’t match indoors, and it’s a fine line to walk between wanting to just hold back enough to avoid injury but also to do enough to make sure that you’re not underdone come that first week in April.

You obviously get a feel for that as a bowler, knowing when to hold back or when to push the boat out and step it up a notch or two if you’re feeling really good.

Touch wood, we haven’t had any major injury problems through the squad this winter. Long may that continue.

I had the odd speed bump in my recovery from foot surgery, but nothing major and they are behind me now. I’ve been off my full run-up for two or three weeks now, and I’m at the point where I’m trying to increase workloads to game level.

We have a couple of friendlies at Headingley when we come back, including one against the Universities, and those will be good to get us comfortable with what we’ll be faced with early in the season.

There’s no getting away from it, pre-season is a long one in cricket, and constant gymming and netting can be like Groundhog Day. So full credit to Harry Booker, our head of strength and conditioning, who has got us out and about each Thursday doing some different and fun activities to break things up.

Some of the highlights have been Laser Tag. That was hotly contested. 

Last week we had dance, which was a change of pace. 

Harry Duke set an English record in Laser Tag, and I probably set a new English record for the worst dancer! 

We also went and met a professional body builder one week, and he had the most unbelievable calves you’ve ever seen. 

Harry Duke

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Harry Duke – a man of many talents.

A few of the lads ended up doing extra bench presses and have been keen to get their shirts off – Bean and Moriarty to name a couple. Others, including myself, have been more keen to keep our shirts on.

Anyway, to finish, I think the overseas signing of Donovan Ferreira for this season’s Blast is a really good one for us. It’s always great to have the star quality and x-factor from your overseas, and it sounds like he has that. His skills should balance things out really nicely for us.

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