Vital to get to know Bayliss - Cook
There will be no boxing sessions or survival lessons as England prepare for the Ashes in the more gentle surroundings of the Spanish sunshine over the next four days, with the emphasis firmly on getting-to-know-you time between the squad and newly arrived coach Trevor Bayliss.
Alastair Cook admitted it was "not ideal" that the first face-to-face meetings with Bayliss were coming less than two weeks before the first Investec Test in Cardiff, but he believes that the camp in Spain is the best solution to fast-tracking a relationship that will be crucial if England are to overcome Australia and regain the Ashes.
Cook met Bayliss for the first time shortly before a round of interviews on Friday ahead of the team's departure for Spain on Saturday. Bayliss has been keeping a close eye on England from afar since accepting the job and has had phone calls with Cook.
Paul Farbrace, who was in interim charge against New Zealand, will play a vital role in helping bond the squad having previously worked alongside Bayliss with Sri Lanka. Cook has also been picking the brains of Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan who played under Bayliss for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. It has been a case of making the best use of whatever information has been available.
"It's not ideal that everyone is meeting the head coach 11 or 12 days before the Ashes but that's the situation we find ourselves in," Cook told Sky Sports News. "Four days away from England, away from the media eye in one sense, and getting away as group I think is vitally important, to spend some time with Trevor. None of us really know him, I've had a couple of phone calls but that's not the same as a few meetings or chatting a dinner.
"Getting to know Trevor is the most important thing and him to know us. The important link is Paul Farbrace, they worked at lot together and get on really well. I know they've communicated a lot since he got the job."
Previous Ashes bonding trips have taken in a variety of experiences, from a visit to Flanders in 2009, a military-style survival experience in the Bavaria forests before the 2010-11 series (which was generally well received although ended with James Anderson suffering a broken rib after a boxing bout with Chris Tremlett) and the much more secretive and odd experience in 2013 when the squad spent three days in the Midlands on a camp devised by an ex-SAS officer.
This time, in Spain, there will be some focus on cricket skills, but only bowling and fielding with the batsmen downing tools for the time they are away. Cook, who has played two County Championship matches and one T20 for Essex since the end of the New Zealand series, is comfortable about the split.
"All the guys have played a hell of a lot of cricket since the West Indies tour, even before that the guys at the World Cup had about a week off. So the guys have played a lot of cricket, we don't need to constantly train, we don't lose it in two or three days of not picking up a bat.
"The Ashes summer is a really big summer and being refreshed and ready to go at the start of it is absolutely vital as well. Two or three days out not picking up a bat will not do any harm."