James Tomlinson admits he will need to ease himself through Hampshire’s pre-season trip to Barbados to ensure he is fighting fit for the new campaign.
The left-arm seamer claimed 47 wickets last season as Hampshire lifted the division two title and will be a key figure once again as they attempt to make an impact on the top flight.
I might not play every game because of the harder ground – it is like bowling on concreteJames Tomlinson
But as the squad fly out to their usual Caribbean pre-season base this week, the 32-year-old must be careful not to pick up any niggles – especially as even more will be expected of him when the season starts after the shock departure of Matt Coles over the weekend.
The former Kent man, who has been playing out in South Africa over the winter, left by mutual agreement after ‘failing to settle’ at the Ageas Bowl, according to a short club statement.
And that means it’s even more important Tomlinson is at peak fitness for April 12, when Hampshire host Sussex in their opening game.
Tomlinson, who has dispensed with last term’s bushy beard, said: ‘Everyone is excited because it’s a really good tour.
‘There are lots of games and everyone is fit. We’ve been doing a lot of work indoors but it makes a difference to get out there playing games again.
‘I might not play every game because of the harder ground – it is like bowling on concrete.
‘We are trying to keep every pre-season the same as it has worked well and we don’t want any injuries.
‘A hot day in Barbados and a pre-season game in England are very different wickets to bowl on.
‘So I will be in the nets a lot and easing myself into it.
‘We’ve got an extra week of pre-season with the Loughborough game when we come back so there are three or four good games to get ourselves ready for the new season.
‘It’s quite a new bowling attack with Andre Adams, Jackson Bird, Yasir Arafat and Gareth Berg coming in.’
Hampshire play a t20 competition on March 14-15 and face Barbados in their first game before they play matches against Nottinghamshire (March 18-19) and Warwickshire (March 20-21).
Coles’ departure leaves Hampshire looking light in the bowling department, with Adams only signed up for a short stint, Berg coming back from a lengthy injury and Arafat originally signed to only play one-day cricket.
That means more will be demanded from the likes of Chris Wood – who had to be managed carefully last season after his return from knee surgery – and all-rounder Sean Ervine.
It may also see spinner Danny Briggs selected more in the four-day games in the early part of the season when the pitches are not as helpful.
Coles’ unexpected departure remains a big talking point among supporters, especially with such a strange official explanation behind it.
There is clearly much more to it than that and the obvious conclusion to draw is that there is a disciplinary issue involved.
Coles was a regular in all forms of the games and performed well last season, picking up 41 wickets and getting through a huge amount of overs in division two.
The fact nobody at Hampshire was prepared to comment on the matter only adds fuel to that fire but he now looks set to return to Kent.