Snow may be lying on the ground and the temperatures at freezing point, but South Wilts are already preparing for the new cricket season, which begins in ten weeks time, writes Mike Vimpany.

The reigning ECB Southern Electric Premier League champions plan to begin pre-season training in mid-February, with emphasis on fitness and stamina before nets themselves begin, writes Mike Vimpany.

“We are fully aware that a lot of clubs begin their training a lot earlier, some even start before Christmas, but we believe our method of a short and intense pre-season works well for us,” said captain James Hayward. “The bulk of our pre-2012 season training was focussed on fitness and agility, and we hit the season running once the cricket began and, with plenty of middle preparation during the dry Spring, we got such a head start on everyone else that we won the Premier Division fairly comfortably in the end.

“Our fielding was vastly improved last season and certainly contributed to the wonderful season we had, both in the Premier League and in the ECB National Club championship, where we reached the last 16 before losing off the last ball to Bridgwater.”

Vice-captain Tom Morton will once again led the fitness training, with ECB Level 3 coach James Hibberd taking charge when nets begin.

South Wilts’ season gets under way at Corsham on April 13 and continues with a visit to Premier Division rivals Ventnor at Newclose a week later.

They play Falkland on April 27 before the season takes a competitive edge in the ECB Club Championship at Warminster the next day.

South Wilts begin their defence of the Southern Electric Premier League crown at Bournemouth on May 4.

Two of South Wilts’ title winning side are spending the winter in Australia – left-armer Steve Warner at the Parkdale Club in Melbourne and all-rounder Own Alsop also in Victoria.

Zimbabwe Under-19 left-hander Ryan Burl, the club’s overseas player this summer, has already arrived and will be at next month’s training sessions.

One major doubt is the availability of opening bowler Jack Sheppard, who has joined Hampshire.

“Jack bowled really well for us last season, particularly in the ECB Club Championship, where he sent down some really tight spells,” Hayward continued.

“He’s now signed a professional contract at the Ageas Bowl, which we anticipate will limit the amount of cricket he can play for us.

“Jack’s a hard working young lad and deserves his opportunity.”

Sheppard’s situation could mean South Wilts operating with a four-pronged spin attack.

“Rob Franklin, Eddie Abel and myself all bowl spin – as does Ryan Burl, whose a handy leggie,” he added.

* Tickets are already on sale for South Wilts’ show-piece match against the Lashings World XI at Bemerton on May 12.

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