Next week I leave the icy weather here in England and head to the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. I can't wait to get out there for 5 weeks of warm weather training and get some valuable match practice as the temperatures hit the early 30s!
Heading out with me is my Sussex team mate Ben Brown, I'm really hopeful he takes lots of sunscreen out with him otherwise he will be returning a very bright shade of red.
Having played and trained in Cape Town for 2 of the last 3 winters I know it well and the facilities out there for cricket and fitness training are second to none. The highlight of my 5 weeks will be working with Gary Kirsten. Gary is one of the top coaches in world cricket with a cv to match anyone in the game. Having worked with him and his academy last year it is great to link up for 3 sessions a week and we hope to build that relationship, following his visit to pure cricket last summer we hope to have him back again next summer.
The last 3 months have been extremely intense physically, the coaches and trainers at Sussex have pushed us to our limits in the gym, on the training pitches and in the indoor school as we aim to become the fittest team in county cricket. Having had a tough year last year we have identified this as a big area for improvement and it has been a very intense period. One of the great things about heading to Cape Town is the use of some of the best gyms in the world. One of the most popular methods of training is the sweat1000 classes that everyone is doing, for me they are the perfect balance between building cardio fitness and improving your strength and movement. Can't wait to get back into them!
Having done so much volume pre Xmas it gives us a chance to continue to build on that whilst working on our cricket skills as the season approaches.
Personally I have been batting for 2 weeks now and working on getting my basics right so I can build towards the season.
When training in the off season it is so vital to make sure each session is specific to your aims. I will do technical sessions where I may drill my basic technique, also test myself against bowlers or a coach. I will also do skill development sessions where I will identify a shot or area I want to access and I will then work only on that for a session. This could be the sweep shot or hitting over the top.
It is important to begin each session with a clear goal and not confuse skill development with method/technique sessions.
For most people, not picking up a cricket bat since the season is really refreshing. I would urge everyone to keep everything as simple as possible and not complicate the way they bat. If you can have solid basics your game will always be consistent and improve no matter what level you play at.
Enjoy the cold!