Sam Conners says he wants to become a key member of the attack across all formats in 2022, and he believes a first full winter working with Ajmal Shahzad will be key for Derbyshire’s bowlers.
After a bright start to the 2021 campaign, Conners’ progress was halted by injury, which saw him miss all white ball cricket before he made his LV= County Championship return against Middlesex at Lord’s at the end of August.
He made the new ball his own in red ball cricket, developing a reputation for taking early wickets, although the young quick has been vocal about wanting to carry that momentum into later spells, something he aims to work on over the winter.
Another goal for the Cricket Derbyshire Academy, in partnership with the University of Derby, graduate is to make his mark in Vitality Blast and Royal London Cup cricket. After claiming 26 LV= County Championship wickets at an average of 28.84 last season, Conners wants to showcase what he can do with a white ball too.
“It was a frustrating season for me, because it started off so well,” he said.
“I picked up momentum in the red ball games and was really looking forward to the white ball stuff, but then I picked up an injury against Warwickshire at Derby and it put a big dampener on everything. After having two months out, I was raring to go for the final four games and I would like to think I did okay in those fixtures.
“So there was some good and some bad, but you take it all in your stride. I’ve missed most of the white ball games in three of the last four seasons, so hopefully next season I can have a real good go at it.
“I’ve spoken a lot to Ajmal [Shahzad] about getting into the white ball team and how I can bring different skills into the side. This winter is a big one for me to really nail that side of my game, because I’d like to stay fit and contribute in all formats next year.”
Conners, along with fellow young fast bowlers Ben Aitchison and Mikey Cohen, claimed his maiden first-class five-wicket haul in 2021, a year which also saw them work with Shahzad, the Club’s Assistant Coach (Bowling Lead), for the first time, following the departure of Steve Kirby to Somerset.
However, having only been appointed in February, this off-season will be the first full winter period the bowlers have had with the former England international, and Conners believes there will be plenty of positive development between now and the start of the new season in April.
“As soon as Ajmal came in, we had a really strong connection,” he added.
“He knew, through conversations with Steve Kirby and myself, what I wanted to get out of the sessions with him and what I wanted to improve on. He took that and added his own input and experience into that, which really helped me last season.
“We only had two months before last season to work with Ajmal, so having the full winter this time around is massive, because we can spend more time working on my skills and making sure everything is clean and polished, ready to really kick on next year.”
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