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Behind Closed Doors – James Harris (April 2014)

MIDDLESEX BOWLER JAMES HARRIS WRITES THE FIRST MONTHLY ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS’ COLUMN FOR MIDDLESEX MATTERS, AND FILLS US IN ON WHAT HE’S BEEN UP TO OVER THE LAST MONTH, INCLUDING THE LIONS TOUR TO SRI LANKA AND PRE-SEASON TRAINING WITH THE MIDDLESEX SQUAD…

Well the first thing I can say about the last month and pre-season to date; it’s been a busy one.

It began with finishing up a victorious Lions tour in Sri Lanka, one that was very hard fought and in a place where not many teams travel to and come away with the spoils, so everyone involved should be very proud of their efforts. From a personal point of view it proved particularly frustrating that I wasn’t able to force myself into the team, but in the end hopefully it will be a blessing. The trip has worked for me as a long pre-season, I’ve been able to do lots of technical work and get myself into the best place possible to start the season.

Since returning at the start of the month I’ve been back in with the boys. After having spent most of the winter away, it’s been great to be back to catch up on all the gossip.

After a quick couple of days getting over my jet lag after returning from Sri Lanka I was back on a plane once again. For pre-season this year Angus Fraser and the staff decided to take the squad on a trip to Poland and in particular to Auschwitz concentration camp. It was a great way to get all of the boys together to have some meetings, plan for the season ahead and also to have a tour of the camp; this was a really harrowing experience. Having done small amounts of history at school I thought I knew the terrors of what happened during the war and at the camp. The actual realisation of what took place there during that period as we were walking round really put things in perspective and just proved how lucky we all are living today and especially us as cricketers doing something that we love as a job.

With some of the pitches being relayed at Radlett Cricket Club where we did last year’s pre-season, we were forced to change our venue for this season’s preparations. This year we put up the tent/marquee up at Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood, North London. The new trend now for several teams is to spend pre-season at home, on grass pitches, in a big tent with the hope that it will replicate the conditions at the beginning of the season more closely. After the way we started last season I can’t see those in charge of the club allowing us any time on the beaches of Barbados or South Africa in March at any point in the next few years. Damn! Lots of praise has to go to those involved at Merchant Taylors’ School for providing us use of all of their facilities including the gym and pool to aid in our preparations as well as working incredibly hard on the wickets in the tent. Praise also to those who had to rebuild the tent after one morning finding it on an adjacent rugby field and not where it should’ve been covering the pitches.

Over the last two weeks we’ve managed to get out in the cold and get in some pre- season friendly games. We had a couple of days, again at Merchant Taylors’, playing against Surrey, getting some overs in, having time in the field and with the bat in hand. Or more commonly known in the dressing room at the moment ‘Getting your four day legs on’. As I sit down to write this now I’m sat in a hotel room down in Taunton where we have been ‘getting our four day legs on’ well and truly. All the boys had a great workout; we batted on a wicket with a bit in it on day one, and then after a heavy roller was used to flatten it out somewhat, we then got through some really good workloads as a bowling group. We’ve actually all bowled really well during the first few games without a lot of reward yet, which hopefully will come our way and turn around come 6 April down at Hove.

It will be great to welcome back the Irish lads Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling, as well as our Chris Rogers after his successful winter, which we’re hoping he doesn’t mention too much, and cracking on with the season come the start of April.

Hopefully see you all on the way.

James

“Behind Closed Doors” appears in the club’s monthly ‘Middlesex Matters’ magazine. An online version of the magazines can be purchased in our online store by CLICKING HERE and hard copies can be purchased from the Middlesex Shop or by calling the office on 020 7289 1300.

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