Kent coach Paul Farbrace hopes the county’s 20-man squad will be fresh, fit and firing on all cylinders when the players return to Canterbury for pre-season training next week.
In preparation for his second season at the St Lawrence helm, the former Kent and Middlesex wicketkeeper has actively encouraged his wards to travel the world during the close season, both to relax and spend some time sharpening their skills and fitness levels.
Though some players have only been abroad for a month or so, Farbrace believes a change in winter scenery is vital for the well-being of his payers.
He said: “The County Championship summer is tough physically and mentally and you’re living and working with the same group of blokes for the best part of six months, so it can only be a good thing to freshen up by doing individual projects and have some time away in the off season, so to speak.
“Those players who were here started doing squad fitness work in December, then group cricket sessions started in January and have continued every Tuesday and Thursday since.
“Each of the 20 players in the squad has an individual programme which identifies who they will work with and what they will work on over the course of the winter.
“With a squad the size of ours we have also encouraged people to get away and play cricket if they can. After his long lay-off, Robbie Joseph needed to ease back into things with the sun on his back so he spent a month in Perth for a month, while for Matt Coles it’s been more of a learning experience.
“He has been at the Paul Terry Cricket Academy throughout the winter honing his skills with people like Bruce Reid and learning to stand on his own two feet a bit.”
Farbrace confirmed that left-arm seamer Ashley Shaw would miss the start of pre-season after suffering a recurrence of the shin problems that sidelined him for much of last season, but added that otherwise his relatively small squad appeared in good shape.
“Simon Cook, as he tends to do at this time of year, went to Hong Kong for three weeks, just to do some fine tuning to his bowling outdoors and in a warmer climate, while Darren Stevens has been out in New Zealand playing for Otago,” added Farbrace.
“Martin van Jaarsveld returned to South Africa for two months to work on his game, while James Tredwell has been touring with the England set-up.
“Rob Key and Geraint Jones have been the only two players to remain in the UK all winter and that’s understandable. ‘Keysie’ has his benefit to organise while Geraint has his farm to look after.
“I think it’s been good all round because everyone has enjoyed a varied winter rather than spending dark days in the indoor nets doing the same work over and over again.”