Warwickshire fast-bowler Chris Wright intends to be one of captain Ian Bell’s go-to fast bowlers next season – after a winter’s preparation which started in unusual fashion with some bowling at 1,650 metres above sea level.

After finishing the Bears’ 2016 season very strongly, Wright was delighted to accept an invitation from the MCC to take part in a 12-day tour to Namibia from November 3 to 15.

Wright and Essex wicketkeeper Adam Wheater were the two professionals in a touring party consisting mainly of good club players who played seven games on the trip to strengthen cricket links with the southern African nation.

It was the MCC’s fifth tour of Namibia since the first in 1990 – and, for Wright, the ideal way to launch the winter.
“It was a really enjoyable trip,” he said. “Everywhere we went people were friendly and it was fascinating to see new places and different cultures.

“I had a small window of time with an opportunity to go somewhere so was very lucky to be invited on the tour. It was a busy trip and we played cricket most days but also spent a day and a half at game-reserve looking for lions which was memorable.

“The first week we were in Windhoek which is at high altitude and bowling conditions were quite tough. We played the national team which was a tough start but then later on the trip we moved to the coast and, while the opposition was not as strong, we got better as the tour went on so won most of the games towards the end.

“Cricket is a massive global sport now but still developing and the MCC do so much to promote it. There are some fascinating places that are a little bit out of the ordinary in terms of cricket – I remember Darren Maddy going to Argentina and Chile. The MCC send teams to some amazing places and I’d love to be involved with that.”

Now back in Birmingham, Wright will spend the next three months in the rather less exotic locations of the gym and Indoor Centre at Edgbaston in the build-up to next season.

And the 31-year-old can’t wait for the 2017 campaign to arrive after ending the 2016 season in excellent form with a match-turning spell in the Royal London Cup final victory over Surrey at Lord’s followed by match-figures of 28-15-38-4 in the crucial win against Lancashire in the last Specsavers County Championship game.

Troubled by back injuries at times in recent years, Wright is now fully fit and firing and aiming to return to the form which helped power the Bears to the championship title in 2012.

“I was really pleased with the games at the end of the season,” he said. “As a senior player I want to be reliable so that Belly can throw me the ball and know what he’s going to get, the way Jim Troughton and Varun Chopra could when they were captain. I want Belly to feel the same way.
“The back trouble I have had has been a pain but, touch-wood, I’m good now. I had a little side-strain last year but it was not my back which was the important thing.

“I just want to get back to putting in consistent performances for this great club. We won a trophy last year and yet we know we can be better so that’s encouraging.”

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