Essex Players Set For Indian Adventures

The first of two groups of Essex cricketers flew out today (Friday) to attend training camps in India. Pacemen Darren Thomas, Tony Palladino and Graham Napier are joined by fast bowling coach Ian Pont on a 12-day trip to the MRF Pace Foundation at Chennai. The Essex trio form part of a larger group of bowlers from English counties being put through their paces over the next fortnight. Napier and Pont also attended the fast bowling camp in 2006 when they were joined by County colleagues Ryan ten Doeschate and Jahid Ahmed. Napier told the Essex CCC website ( “I can’t wait to swap snowy Chelmsford for sultry Chennai and get working on some cricket outdoors. We will have 12 days of practice at the MRF Pace Foundation under the guidance of (Foundation Director) Dennis Lillee, working to a similar programme to that of last year. It’s hard work but hugely beneficial as part of building up towards the new season.” Meanwhile, Academy Director John Childs leads a 10-man Essex contingent jetting off to the World Cricket Academy in Mumbai on Sunday week (February 18). The Academy concentrates on developing techniques for bowling as well as batting and keeping against spin. First teamers Mark Pettini, Varun Chopra and Tim Phillips will be joined by Academy players Adam Wheater, Jaik Mickleburgh, Tom Westley, Aaron West and Theeban Tavarasa on the 10-day trip. 2nd XI Coach and Captain Paul Grayson will bolster the coaching side along with local experts such as former Indian Test leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani. Childs gave the ECCC website an outline of the trip: “The programme on most of the days will be netting in the morning with regular breaks from young Indian bowlers coming in to bowl for us. The idea will be for Wheater and Pettini also to work on their wicketkeeping and Phillips, Tavarasa and Westley to work on their spin bowling. “In the afternoon we’ll have a similar regime after a decent break for lunch, to get the worst of the heat out of the way, ending with a bit of yoga to make sure they are nice and relaxed. It’s a good programme with video opportunities as well on the second and third days for us to review our work. In terms of our match schedule we’ll play at the MIG Ground – Sachin Tendulkar’s home ground – which is a nice venue and the plan is also to play two Twenty20 games.”