Having spent 12 months in my role as Director of Cricket, I have had the opportunity to formulate ideas on how to take Shropshire County Cricket Club forward
The limited number of practice sessions during the last pre-season and the friendly matches played during a curtailed summer highlighted some of the areas that need to be addressed
Along with coach Jason Weaver, a practice programme was drawn up and is being amended, hopefully to be delivered at some stage, dependent on the national and local Covid-19 situation whenever it may be possible for the country to move out of lockdown.
As with many organisations, remote meetings via Zoom have been held online with small groups of players, who were given the opportunity to express their views on the strengths of the squad and themselves as individuals. This included discussions on the areas that need addressing and how to practice them.
Shropshire CCC coach Jason Weaver said: “Through discussion with the players, we have been able to identify key areas of focus, both on a team and individual level, which has helped us to put together a coaching plan for the future.
“Our success will be as a result of players who are prepared to take responsibility to drive the plan forward whilst being supported by the coaching team.”
Changes that were implemented during last summer included engaging the services of Tom Maundrell, a qualified sports therapist, to oversee the physical side of the players’ pre-match preparation and advise on any injuries and fitness. This continued during the winter when Tom devised a four-week physical training plan for the players to follow.
At the start of the current regime, two elements of the game were identified as ‘non-negotiable’, fitness and fielding. With the restrictions on cricket practice and getting together, the players have been encouraged to address their fitness so that as and when we can meet that the focus will be on skills and game plans.
With maximising any time together in mind, the current squad will be sorted into two groups, the senior squad and the senior academy squad.
The squads will be chosen by the selectors – Ian Roe, James Ralph and Tony Parton, along with Jason Weaver and myself.
Ian will oversee the senior academy programme alongside Dave Nock, with input from Jason and me.
The intention is to provide more and longer opportunities to carry out individual coaching in both groups to accelerate the learning of all players.
Another change in the infrastructure will be to formalise the position of Ian Roe as Cricket Manager of Shropshire County Cricket Club.
This recognises Ian’s contributions across many aspects of cricket within the county, and utilises his extensive knowledge of players, clubs and partners.
Ian said: “I am delighted to be given this opportunity by the committee. Having worked with the majority of the players in the senior squad from their time in the Cricket Board junior age groups, we continue our journey together.
“I have been lucky to work with some great coaches during my time at the county club and look forward to developing my skills further working alongside John and Jason.
“I hope we can get back to normality as soon as possible.”
The past year has been testing in many ways and it is hoped that life and cricket will be back to normality in the near future and, hopefully, in time for the 2021 season.
As the National Counties Cricket Association is planning to hold all three formats of competition, the focus and pressure will be to get the players match fit and ready for the start of the season on April 18.
Despite not being able to meet up and practice in person, I have been encouraged by the communication and commitment from the majority of players.
The leadership group of the players has contributed to maintaining the team spirit and ethos which started last January and continued through August and September, when we were able to play some friendly fixtures.
Although times are still uncertain, provisional plans are being devised in association with the executive committee to be up and running for whatever the summer holds.
John Abrahams, Director of Cricket, January 2021