Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach Jack Murfin has been impressed with the Bears pre-season efforts so far, but admits there's still plenty more to come.

The Bears return in earnest on Monday looking to build on a pre-Christmas schedule that was heavily based on strength, speed and athleticism.

The squad are never far away from cricket activity – with individual sessions and meetings taking place – but the primary home of Will Rhodes’ side has been the gym and outdoor running spaces.

“When you look at the volume of cricket they play all the summer this is the one opportunity where we get to build strength in certain areas and work on physical skills,” said Murfin. “We get to go boxing, run at Alexandra Stadium and these group sessions help us work on our athleticism and all-round skill.

“Our aim is for the players to be more dynamic so we’ve had sessions that link in with our fielding. The main aims this year is to make us faster and all round better athletes, which will not only help us in red ball cricket but white ball as well.”

Despite the dark mornings and afternoons, domestic cricket is creeping ever closer. With almost three months before the Bears can defend their County Championship trophy, the shift between fitness and cricket leans towards the latter.

That’s why this period has been so important for a side who are thirsty for more success.

“It’s helpful at the minute that as there’s not much cricket, but when we come to January time cricket will take over. We’ll therefore manage fitness around that and as pre-season comes to a close we’ll taper off their sessions.

“As a group I can’t fault them and they’re working hard individually and as a unit. We’ll test at the end of this week to see where we’re at but in terms of work ethic and progression it’s been really good.”

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