Following the news that the Derbyshire squad will return to training in July, all-rounder Luis Reece is relishing the chance to build towards competitive cricket later this summer.
The players will begin a phased return to training on Wednesday 1 July, starting with one-hour, one-to-one sessions with coaches, focusing on cricket skills and techniques after more than three months away from the game.
Should guidelines allow, training will build in intensity throughout the next four weeks, with the hope that competitive action can return in August, something Reece already has his sights on.
“Most players have struggled during this period,” he said. “You can do plenty of fitness work, but not having that end goal or that time frame to work towards is the real challenge.
“Now that we can see that likely restart time it helps players get refocused and the excitement comes back – it’s almost like a pre-season feeling.
“We’ve got to follow the guidelines and the procedures set by the ECB and the club. But we can still achieve a lot in these four weeks if we go into each session to maximise what we can get out of it.
“There’s no chance of players being burnt out, we’re all desperate to get going!
“As we move through the phases and into group sessions, that’s when the competitive juices start flowing and we can try and get that match intensity back.
“It’s going to be different for everyone. The conditions we’re going to be training in and hopefully playing in, they’ll all be very different and that’ll change the feel of cricket.
“As a team we’ve got to embrace that and stay focused. We won’t use any of that as an excuse and we need to hit the ground running to pick up where we left off.”
The 29-year-old, who has recently developed into an all-rounder with prominent roles with bat and ball at Derbyshire, must divide his one-month training time across the two disciplines.
Last summer, he hit 785 runs and claimed 52 wickets in County Championship cricket, and he knows he must work hard during this training period in order to hit the ground running this summer.
“It’s something that I’ll need to communicate with the coaches and my responsibility with bat and ball is something I’ve embraced,” said Reece.
“Yes it’s a condensed pre-season, but I need to get as much out of it as possible and work on both aspects vigorously.
“I’ll go into each session with an idea of what I want to get out of it and I want to get as close to that level of match intensity.
“It’s going to be difficult for every player, but it’s got to be business as usual.
“We’re professionals in our field and it doesn’t matter how long you have to prepare, we have to get our skill set and our cricket nouse to the same level and above where it was last year.”
While counties await confirmation from the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) regarding a restart date and new fixture list, Reece is keen to pick-up where he left off last season and help Derbyshire to compete in whatever forms of cricket are played.
“You could ask anyone in our dressing room and at no stage are we here to make up the numbers,” said Reece.
“No matter what game, or whatever label is on that game, we’re going out there to win.
“We want to make sure that whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it as best as we can.
“That’s the whole point in cricket returning, for teams to get back and play and to win those games.
“Whether supporters can be there in person or watching via the streams, they want the team to do well and we want them to be proud of us.
“Whenever that first game back is played, we’ll be trying to win it.”
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