Lancashire's squad are heading into the final stages of their pre-season training programme, and all-rounder Kyle Hogg can't wait to get stuck into the competitive match action which awaits during next week's pre-season tour of Dubai.
The Red Rose county return to the Middle East for the second year running on Monday, where they will play a mixture of Twenty20, 40-over and two-day cricket against Sussex, a Fly Emirates team and the MCC Universities before heading back to Manchester on March 28.
Hogg actually missed the two separate week-long training camps in Spain at the end of January and in early February due to a tight calf, but is back to full fitness and ready and raring to go.
“Dubai will be really important for us,” he said as he took part in the launch of the Lancashire Way scheme at Emirates Old Trafford yesterday afternoon. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long you’re batting or bowling indoors for, it’s about getting people out and scoring runs in a game situation outdoors.
“You want to be outside in a match situation, and that’s where we will be next week because people will get the opportunity to see how well they’ve done during the winter months.”
Alongside the three aforementioned recruits, the club have handed Alex Davies, Gavin Griffiths, Arron Lilley and Luis Reece their first professional contracts having come through the Academy and Scholarship programme.
It means that Moores now has the biggest squad at his disposal since joining the Red Rose ahead of the 2009 campaign.
And that, says Hogg, is good news for coaches and players alike: “Nobody is guaranteed to play, and that’s how it should be. People know that if they don’t perform, there’s people there to take their places. It will either get the best out of people or it won’t. That’s how you get your best team.”
Hogg enjoyed his best County Championship season in a Lancashire shirt with 50 wickets in 2011, but struggled to match that last summer because he only took 18 with a best haul of 3-23 in the away win against Durham in early June.
“I think I bowled pretty similarly to how I did the year before. It was just that everything seemed to go our way that year,’ he said.
Moores also said: "Kyle bowled beautifully in 2011, and he didn't bowl that badly in 2012. But backing up a good season is tough. Like a number of our bowlers, he chased the game. We didn't always get the runs we wanted, and we ended up trying to bowl sides out too cheaply. In 2011, we were ruthlessly patient. We put sides under pressure for a long time and suddenly got our wickets."
Now though, Hogg is determined to just look forward, adding: “To me, it’s irrelevant now. It’s about playing well in Dubai and proving to Mooresy that you should play in every game.”
Lancashire’s first match in Dubai is an opening Emirates Airline Twenty20 Cup clash with Sussex Sharks at the Sevens Ground a week on Thursday.