Worcestershire’s players head to Abu Dhabi today (Wednesday) for their two week pre-season camp in prime fitness condition thanks to the winter programmes they have undergone under the supervision of Strengthening And Conditioning Coach, Ross Dewar.

The entire squad brought an end to five months of work at Blackfinch New Road with two days of fitness tests which reached a climax at Malvern College earlier this week.

They are given individual programmes to work to after being fitness-tested at the climax of the 2018 campaign – including those players who have been in action abroad during the winter.

It is all designed to ensure everyone is in the best physical shape for the challenges ahead in all formats of the game right through to the climax of a demanding six month campaign in late September.

Here Ross Dewar explains what the programme entails, what tests the players went through this week and the subsequent goals for each and every player in a Question And Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.

Question: Ross, the squad leaves for Abu Dhabi today (Wednesday). Just explain the process with these fitness tests?

Ross Dewar: “At the end of last season we fitness tested the boys across a number of different ranges – like movement and capacity screenings – and gave them targets to reach for now basically.

“Then last Friday and on Monday we rescreened them to see where they are, to see if they have hit their targets, and so we know what position they are in physically for the season.”

Question: It is crucial in these five-six months during the close season that their fitness levels don’t drop off?

Ross Dewar: “That is how cricket has changed I think. We’ve got that period where we can do what the individual needs.

“That is the big thing we do here, that it is not just a blanket programme for everyone. It is getting specifics for each player to help them with their game.

“It is not about fitness perse but making sure the players are ready to play. That’s the end goal for everyone.”

Question: What sort of things do you put the players through in these fitness tests?

Ross Dewar: “We’ve got movement screens we do with a company called FMS (Functional Movement Screen). They come independently and look at how the boys move because that is the foundation for everything really.

“On top of that, we’ve got capacity tests, things like the yo-yo test for aerobic capacity, 20 metre sprints for pace, fibre agility tests to see how quickly they can turn, a number of different jumps, body fats and just check things like height and weight. Keeping tabs on everything really.”

Question: Do they get set new goals at this stage?

Ross Dewar: “No, if they’ve hit their goals, they are fine. It’s about maintaining through the season with everything really and then when we get to the end of the season, we will re-assess, see what worked, what didn’t and how we can go forward after that again.”

Question: Presumably this is an ever-evolving process?

Ross Dewar: “Correct. Their bodies are going to be in different positions at the end of this season compared to the end of last season so we are hoping ever year they get a bit better.

“With fast bowlers especially, we are trying to keep them away from the lower back injuries, like the stress fractures, and keep them on the park because they win you games.”

Question: Are the lads very responsive to these sort of fitness goals and tests?

Ross Dewar: “The good is they are a good set of lads and they want to improve and so you don’t have to use too much carrot and stick anymore. They want to get better and they are quite competitive with each other so they are always pushing each other to make sure they get better.”

Question: That extra one or two per cent can make all the difference during the season?

Ross Dewar: “Definitely. You have a four-day game and you get to the last day, last session, and you want our bowlers to be able to run in and win the game.

“Twenty20 is so intense that you want them to be on top of their game mentally and the fitter they are physically, the easier that is to do.”

Question: By September, there can be some pretty tired legs and the extra bit in the tank because of the winter fitness work can make the difference?

Ross Dewar: “There is still a lot of cricket to be played in September and we need them as fit as we can throughout the whole season.”