Darren and Andy planning for Somerset players to be stronger in 2002

Dareen Veness, the Head of Injury Prevention at Somerset County Cricket Club, and Fitness Instructor Andy Hurry were busy at the Academy Fitness Centre at the County Ground this morning, "Plotting the next set of fitness tasks for the Somerset players" they said.

Darren told me, "The idea is to get the players stronger, but not bigger -we're not after beach lifeguards. We want stronger joints and muscles, and to get that we need a power lifting programme for them."

He continued, "Some of the players are heading towards this already, like Steffan Jones and Joe Tucker. Steffan is really good, he's not afraid of trying anything if it's going to help him. Matt Bulbeck and Carl Gazzard are both a couple of weeks ahead of all of the others and have been like "guinea pigs" for us."

Fitness instructor Andy Hurry, a former Royal Marine who joined the club at the start of last season told me that he was going to introduce some yoga exercises, "To help with relaxation and flexibility in the players." Darren added ,"The more pressure that we put on them the more that they need relaxation."

"All of the players have had a few days off for Christmas, but they will all be back in next week," they told me.

In fact several of the players have been into the Academy over the Christmas break, including Marcus Trescothick who was in training on Christmas Eve, and as we spoke veteran Graham Rose was hard at work on one of the fitness machines. Both Darren and Andy told me how impressed they were with the attitude that the players had towards their fitness routines.

Andy said, "The main aim is to change their lifestyle. Look at someone like Mike Burns, he's a natural athlete and incredibly fit, and Peter Bowler, who is thirty eight is as fit as a twenty five year oldhe was a revelation to some of the youngsters and a great example for them to follow."

Darren concluded, "Most counties would struggle to integrate it like we have been able to, and a lot of it has been due to the more senior players like Peter Bowler, Graham Rose and Mike Burns who have led from the front, and helped us to drip feed it in."

As I left the Academy Fitness Centre the pair continued with their plotting and planning, all of which will help to make the Somerset players even fitter and stronger than they were in 2001, and hopefully lead them onto even greater things on the field in 2002.