Warwickshire: Bears being worked hard than ever before, says coach

Warwickshire fast bowlers Chris Wright (left) and Keith Barker at West Bromwich Albion's training ground
Warwickshire fast bowler Keith Barker (right) is well used to training at a football ground, having played for Blackburn Rovers before concentrating on cricket

Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown says that his team are being worked harder in pre-season training than ever before in a bid to hit the ground running for 2016.

The majority of the Bears' first-team squad have been back doing fitness training since mid-November.

"It's eyeballs out at the minute," Brown told BBC Sport. "It's going to be very tough physically.

"It's as hard as they will have been worked in my time here."

He added: "The main focus is on fitness and it has to be. We need to work really hard at the right sort of things. I'm not saying we weren't doing that. But we had some seriously solid foundations to revisit. If you do the simple things and you do them well, that takes you quite a way down the road."

The Bears have even been allowed to use neighbours West Bromwich Albion's Great Barr training ground, to work on their all-weather surface.

Brown's Bears in winter
Dougie Brown's pre-season Warwickshire squad is currently without all-rounder Chris Woakes, who is on England's tour to South Africa, and leg spinner Josh Poysden, while pace bowler Chris Wright has been picked for a two-week MCC tour to South Africa just after Christmas.
The Bears will also have three players in Dubai for the inaugural Masters Champions League, for former international players, from 28 January to 14 February. Clarke and Warwickshire team mate Jeetan Patel will play for the Capricorn Commanders, while former England batsman Jonathan Trott will represent the Sagittarius Soldiers.

After winning the T20 Blast in 2014, as well as finishing runners-up in both the County Championship and One-Day Cup, the Bears regressed in 2015, largely down to a poor final month or so of the season.

They failed to win any of their final five County Championship matches to fall to fifth, 100 points adrift of champions Yorkshire, who they had finished just 17 points behind in 2014.

Brown's men also just failed to make it out of their One-Day Cup group before losing to Northants in the T20 semi on home soil at Edgbaston.

"The biggest disappointment was that we didn't compete the way we should have done," added Brown. "But there's nothing wrong in getting it wrong as long as you learn from it and get it right in future. We still have an exceptional squad but by no means an old squad. We have an exciting mix of young players who need the direction of the senior players."

Warwickshire, who look likely to see more of both Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, will step up their pre-season preparations after Christmas. Having been to Barbados for the last few years, they are expected to undergo more warm weather training ahead of the domestic first-class season.

They are due to start with a home game against the Leeds/Bradford MCCU students at Edgbaston on 31 March, prior to the Championship campaign beginning against Hampshire at Southampton on 10 April.