The locally based Somerset players have been kept pretty busy since they returned to training at the start of November.
This is mainly down to Head of Strength & Condition Darren (Daz) Veness, as he explains: “Since we came back at the start of November there has been a heavy bias towards conditioning, which is usual for this time of year, so the rationale hasn’t changed much.
“However, we’ve completed higher volumes of work than we have before this side of Christmas, and looking into the New Year we will certainly be ramping up the volumes further. This is based on the data we collected last year from the GPS units given to us on loan from the ECB. They’re the same units people may have seen stitched into the shirts of the rugby players recently. We used them for Jamie and Craig Overton plus Lewis Gregory as the ECB wanted specific data on them, but I had extra units that I could use with anyone, meaning I had a chance to collect information on quite a few of the boys over the course of the summer.
“The obvious thing was that the seamers are covering a significant amount of ground in all formats, up to almost 20km in a day at times, and although much of that is low level movement such as walking or light jogging, we still need to ensure that the boys are trained for whatever the day may require of them, plus more. It was interesting to see how much the batters did, and also how much activity the boys in the slips and inner ring did.”
Daz went on: “This led us to doing some extra speed work in the warm ups for some of the boys who may not be reaching high speeds for much of the time, leaving them a risk of hamstring issues if we didn’t expose them to enough. Whilst this may seem obvious for the lads like Jim or Tres who do it regularly, bringing Lewis or Craig in like we occasionally did last year meant we needed to bump up things occasionally. Those units allowed us to predict that and plan ahead.”
“I have also been working with the boys on their running mechanics. If we can get them just a little bit more efficient it could pay a lot of dividends, so there has been quite a focus on that.”
“The rest of the work has been done in the gym where we are running a slightly different system to the one we had before, mainly because we have got a new piece of kit. It’s called a Gym Aware and it measures the velocity of the bar during training, which is very useful, as cricket is predominantly an explosive sport. This means that now, by only asking the players to train at a certain velocity, rather than at a certain load, we can offset potential fatigue. This will be crucial to next seasons training, as players still need to train but will rarely be doing it completely fresh.
“During the summer we log the sessions that get completed, such as their explosive sessions, like Olympic lifting, the general strength sessions, and their conditioning work. We clocked up about 1,200 sessions last season which in a squad our size is fair amount. It shows the intention of all the players to be as robust as possible and as resilient to injury as possible, meaning Matt has the option to pick a more consistent squad game after game, whilst also planning recovery and player rotations. That regular consistency can often pay dividends. This is always fantastic for me to see, and this year the boys completed even more sessions than they did last year.”
Daz continued: “The boys all want to work hard and they all enjoy it. Of course you have to create the right environment, which is what we set out to do a long time ago, so the boys want to be better. If you can get players to understand why they are doing what they are doing, and offer the cricketing context for why, then they can see how important it is and how it fits into a match situation.”
One more new addition that Daz has at his disposal this winter is the extra space and facilities that have replaced the hydro pool area.
“We had some problems with the pool that were going to be expensive to repair,” he said. “So we looked at whether or not that was the best use of the space we had and decided that it wasn’t. We took out everything and strengthened the floor with six inches of ‘bridge strength’ concrete and with the help of our old friends at Sportesse, who are based near Glastonbury, we put down some bespoke flooring so the whole area can be used as an Olympic lifting platform and then moved all the heavy lifting stuff down there.
“We have recreated ‘The Pit’ which used to be outside near the back of Millichamp and Hall, so now it really is a pit and place where you are stepping down into to do some heavy work. This means that with Jamie Thorpe’s physio rooms and low level rehab area at the opposite end, and the lighter weights and machinery plus the conditioning equipment in the middle, we have a better flow to the space that we have got available to us!”