Lancashire's preparations for the 2013 county campaign are in full swing.
A number of the Red Rose squad have been back in pre-season training at Old Trafford’s Indoor School since last Monday, including captain Glen Chapple.
“Everybody's looking forward to getting stuck in,” said the all-rounder. “I'm looking forward to it a lot. It's great to see the lads again because it's what we love doing.
“We try and make every winter specific to what it needs to be. There's nothing there for the sake of it, and it's all about how do we progress and get better. We'll use what happened last season to spur us on.”
A number of players are currently plying their trade in sunnier climes at present. Simon Kerrigan has just arrived in India with the England Performance Programme squad, while Steven Croft has enjoyed a successful start to a spell playing Twenty20 cricket in New Zealand for the Northern Knights.
Then there are a handful of other players, including Stephen Parry, Luke Procter, Jordan Clark and Alex Davies, playing grade cricket in Australia.
As for the players at Old Trafford, Chapple continued: “I don't know how much time we've had off, but it's enough. We've all had a good time, and we've got five or six weeks pre-Christmas to get some good work in.
“We'll try and tailor each player's programme individually because we may all need different things. It's a good time to get some skill work in I suppose to try and give the younger lads a bit more time to adjust to our training.
“Maybe for someone like myself it may be more fitness to try and get my body up to speed and hope the skill work's there, which should be after all these years. Individual training is important, as are the days when we'll all be in together working as a team. Everybody's looking forward to getting stuck in.”
One man who is training at Old Trafford alongside Chapple is fellow all-rounder Tom Smith, who spent approximately a week in Hong Kong last month as part of the England squad for the Sixes tournament.
“It was a good experience, although a little bit different from last time I went when we came runners up. I learnt a lot about myself and cricket,” he said. “Coming back into training here couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m feeling pretty good now. I can’t wait to get cracking.”
Gaining promotion back to Division One of the LV= County Championship is understandably the squad’s main goal in 2013, and it was no surprise to hear both Chapple and Smith talk up their chances of success.
“It gives you desire to push on next year and make sure you are fully committed to next season,” said Smith “We know that if we're not fully committed, we'll find it hard. We also know that if we do everything right in the winter, as we always do, we'll be right up there.
“We talked about it at the end of the season. We all know what we need do as individuals and as a team, how to crack on and put the hard yards in. It was just one of those things. We never got on a streak of winning a few games, and it happens. We've dealt with it.”
Another player to have reported for training is new signing and ex-England bowler Kabir Ali, a close season recruit from Hampshire on a two-year deal.
“I played against him once when I was on loan at Leicester,” added Smith. “You look at his record - it backs up second to none. We're delighted to get him in. Hopefully he can get us back up to Division One and push us forward. He's got plenty of experience and played a lot of international cricket, so you can't help but learn from him.”
Photos: Simon Pendrigh