Warwickshire CCC’s 2019 preparations will continue with a pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.
A 27-man party of players and management will head to the United Arab Emirates for a 13-day period of white and red ball training and friendlies in tough humid conditions.
Olly Stone (injury) and Rob Yates (university) will be left behind, but captain Jeetan Patel could take part, dependent on his commitments with Wellington.
“They’ve got good facilities out there,” said first-team coach Jim Troughton.
“We visited the area in preparation for the 2017 season so we’re aware of the site and what’s available to us.
“There’s two gyms and a running track around the stadium, two 50m swimming pools at the hotel and there’s plenty of pitches where we can do a lot of speed work which is crucial.
“You’re spoilt with what you can do, and it gives us that opportunity to maintain our power, strength and endurance.”
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium, a short walk from the hotel, will host three games after a week of intense fitness with Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jack Murfin.
The ground, which was built in 2004 and cost $22 million to build, is arguably one of the world’s finest cricket grounds, hosting Pakistan’s home fixtures, the first leg of the 2014 Indian Premier League and the 2004 ICC Intercontinental Cup.
The Bears will play two 50 over fixtures against Somerset CCC (15 March) and Worcestershire (16 March), before returning for a three-day game against the former three days later (19 March).
“The games we’ve got are against good county opposition and there’s two 50 over games after a hard week of white ball training,” added Troughton.
“We’ll then finish with some red ball training before the Somerset fixture and flying back.
“It’s good to get the best of everything and nail down a three-day game because it guarantees time on the feet, which is something that every country struggled with when they got back to England last year.
“We don’t know what the weather will be like when we get back but as long as we know we’ve got a three-day game under our belts it puts us in good stead.”
Last season, the Bears based their pre-season practice in an Edgbaston marquee in conditions prepared by head groundsman to replicate those they will find out in the middle when the season opens in April.
The set-up was a huge success due to the surprising poor weather, but with the future development planned around Edgbaston and the guarantee of overs, the decision was made to head abroad.
“The marquee had lots of benefits as we were training on surfaces that replicate on what you’d get in the middle,” Troughton concluded.
“And with the poor weather, which was the worst of I’ve ever seen, we were one of the only counties who could train and work through it.
“But we know the next stage of the development is going to be happening around the ground and the question was whether we’d get that space again.
“Therefore, the thought process was to guarantee the overs and hope the weather is a lot kinder in late March when we return for our friendlies and first-class match against Leeds/Bradford MCCU.”
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