Thursday, October 26th, 2017

“multiple Factors” Keep Leach And Other County Bowlers On The Park

The efforts of skipper Joe Leach, Josh Tongue and Ed Barnard with the ball were a key factor in Worcestershire gaining promotion back to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship and between them they collected 163 wickets.

But another vital statistic was the sheer durability of the trio with all three of them able to play in all 14 Championship matches during the 2017 campaign.

It is not down to good fortune and “multiple factors” are responsible for this according to Ben Davies – the County’s Head Of Sports Science and Medicine.

Davies and Strength and Conditioning Coach Ross Dewar’s sterling efforts have been well documented with Leach only last week praising their “phenonemal” efforts in keeping players out in the middle during a gruelling six month season.

But Davies also cites the professionalism of the players, constant communication between all parties as key areas and trust in each other.

He said: “We looked at the overs bowled the other day and those three players, Joe, Josh and Ed, if you combine match overs and training overs, bowled 750 overs for the season which obviously is a really good effort.

“I think it (staying fit) comes down to multiple factors. The players are unbelievably professional in their preparation for games.

“They are in the gym from eight o’clock every day on match days preparing for the game,a warm-up for their warm-up.

“We are very lucky we’ve got a bowling group that is like that.

“Another factor is communication so myself, Ross, the players, coaching staff, have a constant three-four way communication regarding work loads, how the players are travelling, if they need a day off training, if they need to bowl a little bit more in training.

“We are quite conscious of under-bowling people as well so, if they need to come in for a bowl, on occasions we’ve got the bowlers in on a scheduled day off to have a bowl to top them up, keep them ticking over.

“We also monitor five or six weekly scores to see how their strength is going, and if they are maintaining strength, which this season they have. We measure three or four different ranges of movement just to see how they are travelling as well.

“There is constant communication between everyone – and everyone is open to it so if we go to Mase and Bump and say ‘player X needs to have a day off training today, they bowled a lot last week and are a little bit stiff’ they will give us that day.

“In the same way if we say to the players ‘lads we are sorry, we know Tuesday is a scheduled day off but you need to come in and bowl five or six overs with Mase, they will come in and do it.

“It works. The proof is in the pudding. There is a high level of trust between everyone. Monitoring work-load is the biggest way you can keep people fit.

“Impact injuries like a broken finger you can’t do anything about but muscle injuries you can have a big impact.”
Tongue and fellow promising paceman George Scrimshaw have both had to overcome stress fractures of the back.

Davies said: “It is all about skeletal maturity basically. You are not really skeletally mature until you are aged around 21.

“These lads who are Under-21 are always going to be prone to bone stress when they are trying to bowl at 90 miles an hour.

“You have to try and ride the wave and balance load bowling with strength work and constantly try and balance that out.

“No-one has got a set magic formula that you can use and guide these lads through because all players are different.

“Josh Tongue unfortunately had to have surgery because his stress area wouldn’t settle. George Scrimshaw’s will heal. It’s a different kind of scenario with a similar area of the lower back.

“Scrimmy is just time, load, patience and we will see the benefits of Scrimmy over the next few years.

“If all goes to plan he hopefully gets fit for the start of next season and all of a sudden have a year like Josh Tongue and then you’ve got two of them on your hands.

“It’s about patience, balance, monitoring things, communication. All those things are important.”