Slater keen to build on positives

Opening batsman Ben Slater believes the Derbyshire squad can continue the progress made last season when they return to action for the 2018 campaign.

Preparations for next season began in earnest as the squad returned to training this week with a series of fitness tests at The 3aaa County Ground. Results from these tests will help determine individual training plans as the squad get to full fitness before cricket-specific training begins in the New Year.

Speaking to BBC Radio Derby, Slater said: “The last 18 months I’ve been playing cricket non-stop really, with two English seasons and the Australian summer in the middle of that. So to have a month or so off to refresh the body and the mind has been good.

“Hopefully I can have a good winter in Derby, get myself fit and work on a few things batting wise, and I’m sure it will stand me in good stead.

“Times are changing and we have to be fitter. From now until Christmas we will focus on fitness, with a little bit of the skill work. It’s nice to come back and get fit before Christmas and then focus on what you want to focus on cricket wise after Christmas.”

Having spent the winter of 2016 in Australia playing first grade cricket alongside teammate Alex Hughes, Derbyshire’s leading run-scorer in the Royal London One-Day Cup group stage says he benefited from playing on unfamiliar wickets.

The 26-year-old added: “It was the first time I went over and the standard was very good. I was a bit surprised with some of the wickets, they were harder and tougher than I’d have liked as a batsman.

“It stood me and Alex [Hughes] in good stead to have played in the same team and it was good to have that pressure to perform week in, week out.”

Now back in regular training with the Derbyshire squad, the left-hander is keen for the team to build on the positives of 2017 and go one step further in all forms next season.

He said: “If you look at our performances in the Twenty20, and if it wasn’t for Shahid Afridi we could have perhaps made it to Finals Day. Differently, I think the 50-over it was a bit disappointing; we started well and fizzled out towards the end.

“In the Championship, once we got the side together with Hardus [Viljoen] firing and Imran [Tahir] we did well and that showed with the wins at the back end of the year.

“That’s all positive and with the signing of Ravi Rampaul that can only help us to take 20 wickets in the game and we showed last year that we can do that. He can only strengthen us across all three formats.

“I played the first couple of T20 matches and after that to watch the lads and how well they performed, it was obviously disappointing to miss out in the quarter-final. But hopefully we can go one step further next year and we’ve shown we got the formula right.”

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