Warwickshire's players have stepped up their training as preparations advance for the defence of their LV=Insurance County Championship title.

The Bears are fully back in harness after Christmas as they await publication of the 2022 fixtures later this month.

Many hard yards of vital training lie ahead in the coming weeks, the unseen and unglamorous side of professional cricket – but they will be undertaken by the Bears players with the spring of champions in their step.

“You always strive to improve and be consistent in everything you do,” said first-team coach Mark Robinson. “But you always want to build on the good stuff and of course it’s good that we are coming from a strong place.

“It is very exciting to be at Warwickshire right now because, while we have just won the championship, I can see how much this group of players wants to keep improving and build on that success.”

Following the turn of the year, the focus at Edgbaston will move increasingly to cricket skills after the players worked extensively with strength and conditioning coach Jack Murfin during the first part of the winter.

“The players belong a little bit more to Jack before Christmas and then more to the coaches now,” said Robinson. “January is about coming together again after the break then February starts to get more competitive and come March you are working more as a team.

“I always think if there is anything major you want to get ahead of individually from a technical point of view, then you try and do that before Christmas before we start working together more as a group. Then the nearer you get to April the more competitive you become as a group, ready to hit the season running.”

The Bears will defend their title with the championship back to its two-division format after the counties voted to revert from last season’s three-conference system. It is a switch which Robinson warmly welcomes, though he has some sympathy for Nottinghamshire who were relegated in 2020 and now find themselves back in Division Two despite their red-ball resurgence last season.

“I think two divisions is the best thing for English cricket,” he said. “This format is best for the development of players with the cut and thrust of two divisions and I hope I would have said the same thing even if we were in Notts’ shoes.

“I feel very sorry for Notts because they had an outstanding year in 2021 and have been victims of the change back and ended up back in Division Two. But whichever team you support, I think a two division championship best for the future of English cricket.”

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