Joel Ready for Return of the Players

Somerset’s playing squad will be returning to training soon after a well-deserved break.

Over the last few weeks SCCC Head of Strength & Conditioning, Joel Tratt has been working hard at the Cooper Associates County Ground to ensure that everything is in place for day one of pre-season training.

“2021 saw us return to a normal summer in terms of playing volume, so we have given the guys some well-deserved time off,” he explained when we spoke with him earlier today. “I think that the 2020 season only being a couple of months long ended up having a real physical impact on everyone and we saw that this year. I think this became apparent as the season went on. Although we didn’t have any major problems, there were a few aches and pains that needed to be cleared up. Rest and recover are the best treatment for that sort of thing, so it’s good that the guys have had a few weeks to get away, spend time with their families and recharge their batteries. That’s really important both physically and mentally.

“Although most of the guys are away, we’ve been helping Jack, Craig and Tom Abell prep ahead of going out to Australia. They’ve been in for the last few weeks to get their bodies going again and getting back into their routines, both in the gym and skills wise. It’s going to be really exciting to see how they get on out there. The rest of the guys have been training remotely since the 25th. We’ve created individual programmes for everyone, and they can do that in their own time.”

What will be in store for the players when they return to Taunton?

“Everyone will be back in on the 15th and ahead of that we’ve been working on creating a second gym area,” Joel said. “We are looking at having a weights area and also a conditioning gym where we will do all the off-feet work. We’ve also invested in some new strength & conditioning software which will make our processes more efficient. Jamie Thorpe (SCCC Head of Science & Medicine) and I have been working alongside the skills coaches to make sure that everything that we are doing complements the skills work perfectly.

“Each player will have individually tailored programmes because there is so much going on. For example, Josh Davey is at the World Cup, we’ve got Craig, Jack and Abes going to Australia, and Marchant, Bants and Will Smeed are off to the T10. In the past the whole squad would have had a programme, and everyone would be doing things together. Nowadays you have to really tailor everything to the specific individual. The key is to create an environment in which they can become the best versions of themselves.”

During the summer, we saw the emergence of several Academy players in the Royal London Cup. They made headlines on the field, but Joel was equally impressed by what he saw from a training perspective.

“They were brilliant,” he said. “That’s testament to the work that James Always (SCCC Academy & Pathway S&C Coach) has done with the young players. What he’s done has been first class. These guys are just like young pros and they transitioned seamlessly into the First XI environment. They behaved like professionals and that has a lot to do with the education and support that they’ve received from the likes of James, Steve Snell (Head of the SCCC Talent Pathway), Andrew Griffith (SCCC Player Pathway Bowling Coach) and Matt Drakeley (SCCC Pathway Head Coach & Talent Identification Lead). It’s a very professional programme but they are sensitive to the fact that these guys are still in school. The players went about their business in an impressive way, and we can all look forward to seeing a lot of them in the future.”

Despite some outstanding performances throughout the year, 2021 eventually finished in disappointment for the Club. However, Joel doesn’t think that success is too far away.

“I don’t think that we need to completely change our processes because we’ve been a very good side for a long period of time. There’s no denying that we had a bad September, and we will tweak some things slightly, but when you look at the season as a whole, I think the majority of other counties would snap your hand off to have performed the way that we did. It just goes to show where we are as a club because we were disappointed with last season even though we qualified for Division One in the Championship and came second in the Blast.

“I have complete faith in the squad because we have a hugely talented group who care massively about the Club. By the time the 2022 season comes around I know that we’ll all be champing at the bit again. There’s a real drive from absolutely everyone behind the scenes to make sure that we are genuinely fighting for trophies in all formats next summer. It’s really exciting to think about what this group can achieve.”