With the season beginning in just a few, short weeks, it was time for the players and coaches to jet off to sunnier surroundings and prepare for the season in style.
This, evidently, translates into Northamptonshire County Cricket jetting off to Barbados for their traditional pre-season tour.
With an itinerary packed full of games, training, rest and relaxation and, of course, golf, the players and coaches flew out to the West Indies on 9th March for 11 days off pre-season prep.
Once the players touched down in Bridgetown at 3pm local time, it was time for everyone to sooth their jet lag and to become accustomed to their new home for the next 11 days. That home was the Barbados Beach Club. Having played host to the team for the last few years, settling in to this familiar environment did not take too long.
The next morning, after a long and much needed rest, it was down to Head of Strength and Conditioning, Chris Lorkin, to help get the flight out of the players legs. Strength, conditioning and fitness is an essential part of any pre-season tour, and with competitive matches beginning in just under a month, the players were put to work with an array of different exercises and activities.
A pre-season tour at Northants County Cricket is more than just shuttle drills and sprints, however. With a couple of games lined up as part of the tour, the players also began refining their skills, with batters and bowlers putting hours into their nets sessions throughout the tour. Speaking as part of our pre-season YouTube series, Extra Cover, Assistant First Team Coach & Bowling Lead, Phil Rowe, was pleased with how the boys trained and performed throughout the tour.
“We’re in good shape, and I want the season to start tomorrow. The lads are in really good shape, bowlers are hitting their straps and we’ve got a great bowling unit here and they’ve been a joy to work with.”
Away from the cricket, one of the highlights of the tour, for both players and coaches, is the day out out the golf. The hosts for this years excursion was the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club. A sun-kissed and picturesque setting for an easy 18 holes, this day out proved too be the perfect remedy for a tough few days training in the scorching Barbados heat. Of course, whenever sport is involved, healthy rivalries always ensure, and you can watch the battle between club captain,. Alex Wakely, and Steven Crook, on the NCCC YouTube channel to see who came out on top.
The fixture against the North side was also one of the highlights of the tour. As they prepared for the North South series, the North side won by 8 overs, with NCCC all out for 263. Despite the loss, the boys did respond with a 7 wicket win over the Wanderers in the second fixture of the tour, and Head Coach, David Ripley, was impressed by the competitive spirit demonstrated by all the players throughout the tour.
“It was good to get some competitive juices flowing. The games herald the start of the push for places in the final 11, and we have a very competitive squad and picking the starting 11 in all comps is going to be a tough job.”
Despite the players displaying a good, competitive edge, Ripley believes there is still work to be done as the players return to England.
“The trip has set us up well, however, it’s an important 2 weeks ahead transferring form into English conditions. The weather hasn’t helped the ground staff prepare but with some sunshine over the weekend we hope to get back on the grass next week.”
Northamptonshire begin their domestic season next month when they take on Oxford MCCU at The Parks on 7th April.
To find out more about the pre-season tour and to gain a behind-the-scenes look at the boys’ time in Barbados, download the Northamptonshire County Cricket app today and watch exclusive footage of the Barbados 2018 tour.