Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Strauss Focuses on Game Fitness

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Strauss Focuses on Game Fitness

Article excerpt

ENGLAND have been told to shun the tropical delights on offer in Barbados to embark on a gruelling fitness regime designed to help them withstand their arduous schedule over the next 12 months.

Despite being away for nearly 10 weeks, captain Andrew Strauss has put a stop to the traditional easing off at the end of a long tour to instigate a tough workout for the players.

Instead of relaxing on the beach at the back of their Bridgetown hotel, England's players have been put through a series of fitness programmes, including boxing and running immediately before batting in the nets - with press-ups taking place in the middle of their batting practice.

It is a regime which may not have been universally accepted by players run down by a long tour, but Strauss believes it will be vital if they are to stay in shape mentally and physically for the challenges ahead.

He said: "You can always improve your fitness and with the schedule we've got ahead of us, which is a very busy and arduous one, we need to be as fit as we possibly can.

"Traditionally the back end of a tour has been a time to take your foot off the gas a little bit and cruise through to the end, but we've recognised that in this circumstance it would be the worst thing we could do."

England face three remaining one-day internationals on this tour, starting with today's encounter at the Kensington Oval, before returning home for Test and oneday series against West Indies and the Twenty20 World Cup.

They will then face a home Ashes Test series, a seven-match one-day series against Australia followed by the Champions Trophy in South Africa and a Test and one-day series in the same country before the end of the year.

Leading players like all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who returns to England's side today after a month on the sidelines with a hip injury, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood have two weeks playing in the Indian Premier League in South Africa to fit in between the end of this tour and the start of the first Test at Lord's on May 6.

Strauss claimed: "The schedule is arduous and the only way to counteract that or the only way to make sure you can play at a high level throughout the amount of cricket we're playing is to make sure you're very fit both mentally and physically. …

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