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WINTER: Hobden hopes South African trip will pay dividends

05-Feb-2015

Matthew Hobden hopes that a spell in South Africa on the Potential England Performance Programme will help him fulfil his 2015 goal of regular first-team cricket with Sussex.

The strapping 21-year-old from Eastbourne arrived in Potchefstroom earlier this week with five other pace bowlers who have been identified as having England potential for a 19-day stay in which they will build on the technical, strength and conditioning work they have been doing in Loughborough since November - with the climate allowing them to step up their practice outdoors.

“We had a pretty light first day, about four overs starting on a short run and progressing into something a bit longer, then a nice gym session to get us going after the long flight,” he said.

“We concentrated a lot on strength and conditioning before Christmas so it’s quite nice to come out here and implement some of the changes we’ve made technically.

“I have been out to South Africa twice with the Academy at Sussex, down in Cape Town, so I kind of know how it works out here with the heat and things. Hopefully it means I can hit the ground running when we go off to Desert Springs and then for our pre-season tour in Abu Dhabi.

“I really want to break into the first team this season and get a regular spot. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I believe in my own ability.”

Kevin Shine, the former Somerset coach who is now the ECB’s fast bowling lead, points to the PEPP as the perfect illustration of county and country working together for mutual benefit.

“I’ve played county cricket, coached in county cricket and so I recognise how important it is,” he said. “That’s why we work so closely with the counties on this programme, and we also stress to the bowlers that the first task for them is to be playing regular first-class cricket for their counties. Hopefully the bigger picture of the Performance Programme, the Lions and England comes after that.

“We’re very proud of it actually, I think it’s our flagship programme in terms of the time we have with a small group through the winter, which allows us to work on strength and conditioning and then move into bowling in this phase out in South Africa. It’s evolved every year since we first set it up with Troy Cooley taking me out to the MRF in Chennai in India nine years ago, and this year we’ve got some real groundbreaking stuff back in Loughborough which allows us to understand how to coach the bowlers technically in greater detail than ever before.

“We keep their counties informed throughout and then we keep a very close eye on them throughout the summer. All the technical things for them to work on are jointly agreed by the players and counties. It’s a very joined-up process.”

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