Joel full of praise for Somerset squad

Somerset CCC Head of Strength & Conditioning, Joel Tratt has heaped praise on the players in the squad for the way that they have handled themselves since the outbreak of Covid-19 and how they have adapted to the new procedures that are in place following lockdown.

“I was delighted by the shape that the boys came back in from lockdown,” he explained when we spoke to him this week. “There was an element of not really knowing what to expect because none of us have experienced anything like this before. Obviously we were confined to our houses and we were restricted in terms of the training that we could do. The players are used to being physically active, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, they came back in fantastic shape and that meant that we were able to get back into things pretty quickly when it came to cricket. If they’d come back out of shape it would have been difficult for them to get back into cricket.

“They’ve dealt with everything brilliantly and that’s allowed us to prepare and train in a certain way. They’ve then taken that into the fixtures, starting with the friendly against Gloucestershire. The guys put in a brilliant performance in that game and then backed it up with impressive displays against Glamorgan and Northants.”

Does Joel think that the extended break benefited the squad in certain ways?

“The individual circumstances for coming into the season were very different,” he said. “Some players had really busy winters and were involved in franchise cricket, England tours, Lions trips or Under 19 commitments whilst some of the lads have been at home all winter. Those guys have therefore had an even longer break and a few of them have said that this has benefited them. It really is a very individual thing, but what I can tell you is that by the start of July every single one of them was ready to play cricket. That’s evident from the enthusiasm we’ve seen in training and out on the field. They’ve been nothing short of awesome.”

What does Joel think has been the biggest change that the players have had to deal with?

“When it comes to using the gym they now have to stay two metres apart, use only a certain area of the room at any one time and cleaning the equipment down. We also have to be very diligent in handing out all of their individual supplements in individual containers and bags so that there’s no cross-contamination. I think the hardest part is that they have to just come in, train and then get out again. We’ve got a really tightly knit group and naturally they want to be socialising with each other and spending their time together. Everyone is now having to be even more efficient with their time and I think that in certain areas this has helped to raise our intensity. They boys have been brilliant in that respect. They’ve adapted really well and have stuck to the regulations extremely well.

“The biggest challenge to begin with was knowing when lockdown was coming and making sure that we put enough in place to make sure that the boys had enough to be going on with at home so that when we came back we could crack on. I’m really happy with the job that we did with that. In terms of coming back it’s mainly about making sure that the scheduling is properly in place. It helped that I came back in with the England lads to begin with because I had a smaller group. That gave me some idea of what needed to be implemented and I was able to then do that on a larger scale.

“There’s a big difference when it comes to away games because I haven’t travelled. I would normally go with the team but we can’t currently use the gym at away grounds because they are bio-secure to their environment. In the past we would have used the facilities at the away ground, but now it’s very much a case of being on the cricket field and then heading back to the hotel.”

How impressed has Joel been with how the work behind the scenes has manifested itself on the field?

“I’ve been really impressed,” he said. “The bowlers have bowled with a real intensity alongside some world class skill. I know for a fact that their fitness levels will have had an impact on that because it allows them to do it for a longer period of time. They’ve caught brilliantly as well and the fielding standards have been right up there with where we were last year. We’ve picked up where we left off and that’s great to see.

“Hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing and come back from Edgbaston having made it three from three.”

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