Charlie Morris is approaching the new campaign in a relaxed frame of mind after admitting he put too much pressure on himself last summer to immediately force his way back into the first team.
Morris’ trademark work ethic is as strong as ever after a second winter in Australia playing for Tuggeranong Valley and The ACT Comets.
And the encouraging news is that the Worcestershire paceman believes he is “a totally different bowler from where I was two years ago for the better.”
Morris suffered a grade two side strain after Christmas and returned home but expects to be fit and firing for the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi in just over a fortnight’s time.
Morris said: “How has the winter gone in terms of yourself and Tuggeranong Valley? It was good. I’ve always worked hard whenever I’ve gone away and I’ve continued to develop my skills and the things I set out in my development plan and I felt I really executed them well.
“I feel confident in building those skills but I know it only counts really when it comes to pre-season but I’m actually really relaxed about it and just looking forward to playing.
“I’m in the last year of my contract and I’m just looking forward to the season ahead and enjoying every minute of it and obviously hopefully it goes well.
“But I don’t really feel under too much pressure at all. I’ve always worked hard, I can’t really question anything I’ve done in terms of work ethic or anything.
“I am just really looking forward to the season ahead. I think last year I worked really hard when I was away, I came back in a great place but I put a lot of pressure on myself to get into the side early.
“That probably had a detrimental effect because I started really well on tour and for the early part of pre-season but then, I kind of put too much pressure on myself, thinking that all the hard work I’d done has to pay off by getting in that side early doors.”
Morris added: “It was a disappointing year to not play any first team cricket last year but I do think I have developed a lot.
“I’m a totally different bowler from where I was two years ago for the better.
“Words are easy. It’s easy to say that. Anyone can sit here and say ‘things have gone well’ and you have developed.
“But I’m just really relaxed and looking forward to showcasing what I’ve done and enjoying every moment of cricket this summer and hopefully it goes well. That’s all I can do.”
So what made Morris return to Tuggeranong Valley?
He said: “Club cricket in Canberra isn’t as strong as the other major cities around Australia, that’s for sure. But the club is great, I’ve got some really good friends there for life and the set-up is great.
“It’s probably one of the best clubs in Canberra in terms of facilities and there is also the ‘Comets’ programme there in which they play in the Futures League which is their county second team.
“It is a strong standard, certainly stronger than county second team cricket. To train with them and in the nets at Manuka Oval was excellent.
“A few of the guys had played State cricket and a couple of them in the Big Bash including Jono Dean who had just won the competition with the Adelaide Strikers and Aiden Blizzard who plays for Sydney Thunder.
“It is great to talk to them about cricket, how the Big Bash is run, their plans, and things like that.
“You get to play in the Kingsgrove T20 League which is the Sydney T20 competition and in that the league is very strong with some State players and county pros playing.”
Morris added: “The Comets head coach, Kyle Piper, came to Worcester last April for a three weeek window just for a kind of affiliation building between ACT cricket and Worcestershire.
“I get on with him really well, have trained really hard in the nets and the Comets squad. The reason for going back to Tuggeranong was that opportunity was there to develop.
“I don’t think there is a better way to develop your bowling than to bowl all the year around.
“Bowling indoors is very different to bowling outdoors. You can make good gains indoors but outdoors, you are off a full run, the weather is good, bowling with a different ball, in different conditions.
“It helps you to grow and develop as a bowler. The club is great and the standard is good for the most part.”
Morris helped holders Tuggeranong reach the finals of the one-day competition before they lost to last year’s fellow finalists Weston Creek.
He said: “We were on their home ground which is a notorious flat track. We lost the toss and we bowled really well and restricted them to 260 which was well below par
“But the batting line-up didn’t fire, we were four down for 40 and although we managed to keep up with the rate and built a partnership, we just couldn’t finish it off.
“In the longer competition, the guys are sitting mid-table and might be able to make the play-offs.”
Morris is looking to return as quickly as possible from his side strain injury.
He said: “It was the second week back after Christmas, for the Comets against a Future Stars X1 at Canberra.
“Sadly in my second spell of the 50 over game, I picked up a side strain. I’ve never had one before. I spoke to Ben (Davies) and he said to get a scan and then we booked the flights a couple of days later to come home.
“It was a grade two tear, the rehab is going well, it’s a five to six weeks recovery period, and we are into week four or five now, and I should be back bowling soon before the tour (to Abu Dhabi).
“It would be great to still be bowling now but I take a lot of confidence from the work I’ve already done since October, training and playing since then.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work in the bank so that doesn’t just disappear. If there was to be an injury, it’s probably the best time for it and just freshen up.”