On tour with Mike - blog entry one
Welcome to the first of my weekly blogs from the BLACKCAPS tour of the UK.
As avid fans we know you can read the scorecards and watch the ball-by-ball action on your TV, but what I’d like to share with you is a bit more of an insight into what happens behind the scenes and the preparation that goes into each match. So join me each week for the latest from the BLACKCAPS camp as we strive for victory over our old foes.
The term “unfinished business” reflects how we felt after that final day of the third Test at Eden Park last month. Being so close to victory over the second best Test nation in the world was hard to swallow and I’ve never seen the guys so disappointed in the shed afterwards. I couldn’t have been prouder of their efforts but that was certainly little consolation at the time.
On a positive note, there were so many performances over the summer to cherish. I felt Trent Boult was one of the stars of the home series. He bowled superbly in Dunedin without much reward, put in a fine performance in Auckland and he seems to be gaining valuable knowledge from each experience.
With the bat, Kane Williamson continued his development after moving up to number three in the order. Kane has a real desire to bat there and I believe he’s certainly got the skills required to be successful over a long period for the BLACKCAPS. Kane also has valuable experience in English conditions having played for Gloucestershire in County Cricket.
This week we kick off our campaign to chase that much sought after victory over England. We head to the UK tonight (Monday 29 April), and our first match is on Saturday against Derbyshire. We know there’ll be different challenges facing the English at home – different conditions, grounds, balls and early season pitches. We’ll have to prepare well in those conditions to put England under pressure again.
After a week off following the summer series, strength and conditioning coach Chris Donaldson has had the guys working through individualised programmes focused on speed, power and endurance. Chris has made real progress in getting the guys fitter, faster and stronger so that they’ll make better decisions on the field. It was encouraging to see 49 personal bests in the last round of fitness testing.
We haven’t brought the squads together as a group as they need time at home after long periods away, but the boys have been training on grass in Tauranga, Auckland, Napier and Lincoln, with plenty of indoor work in Wellington and Dunedin. Now the countdown is on to our first warm-up match and the chance to deal to that “unfinished business”.