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RMJ: New science brings new benefits

July 31st, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket, Miscellaneous and tagged , ,

How much has county cricket changed in the decade or so I’ve been playing? Actual on-field action has changed very little. It is the mind-set of the players and the pre- and post-match routines where change has been most prevalent.

When I started at Sussex there was a feeling that you put in the hard work so that when it came to the contracts at the end of the year they had no reason to hand you your P45. You tried to ensure you had done enough as an individual. These days they are more likely to ask: “What have you contributed to the team?” and “How have you helped to win matches for Sussex?”

Another change has been the training regimes of the players, particularly in the off-season. You used to say goodbye to your county colleagues at the end of September and hello again the following March. Only fitness fanatics could be seen on runs along the Hove seafront or the Sussex Downs. Today the players might have October off. Then it’s a regimented training programme organised by the county’s strength and conditioning coach (yes, that’s his actual title), which includes weight and sprint training as well as longer runs.

Our warm-up and cool-down on match days have changed beyond recognition. The morning warm-ups really do warm us up as opposed to the old-school 15 minutes of vague stretching and a quick net. And the word ‘cool-down’ no longer means a few pints of cold lager in the bar, rather an ice bath followed by a Jacuzzi (which apparently flushes the lactic acid out of your muscles or, to put it in English, stops you getting so stiff the next day).

They’ll be plenty of people reading this with a sceptical eye and I too have been suspicious of some of the new science that surrounds the game. But some things definitely work (the ice baths for example) and there is so much more at stake in the county game, particularly financially, that clubs would be crazy not to keep abreast of the changing ideas.

And on a final, unrelated note, we had another full house crowd at Horsham yesterday to watch some great county cricket at a beautiful ground. Just in case anyone by the name of Paddy Briggs is reading this.

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details.

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