A state-of-the-art marquee over Bellerive Oval’s practice wickets is giving Tasmania a pre-season advantage it has never had before.
Cricket Tasmania has installed a 45-metre long and 25m-wide cover over the outdoor training area – much to second-year coach Adam Griffith’s delight.
“We’ve been on turf for four weeks now, which is unheard of for us at this time of year and has given us an extra bit of a boost this year,” Griffith said in his home-town of Launceston last week.
“We finished the season off on a high last year [making the Sheffield Shield final] and we wanted to carry that momentum on to not only how we’re going to play our cricket, but to keep on developing our players.
“And when you’ve got facilities like that it’s easy to teach them.”
Last season Tasmania struggled in the one-day cup, drew with Queensland in the Shield final and the Hurricanes made it all the way to the BBL decider after several lean years for the Apple Isle.
Several players stood out. Young Jake Doran and Beau Webster came of age, Matthew Wade led from the front, Jordan Silk recaptured his form, Tom Rogers proved a likely sort with the ball and Jackson Bird dominated opposition batsmen.
George Town’s Gabe Bell was also lethal with 24 first-class wickets at 19.97 before injury ended his year.
Griffth puts the change of fortunes down to all his charges harbouring a desire to learn and improve – a key indicator he looks for as coach.
And the impact of having 2018 domestic cricketer of the year and skipper George Bailey, 35, on a full-time basis could not be underestimated.
“He didn’t go to England this year so he has been with us during the pre-season which has been outstanding,” Griffith said.
“The wealth of experience he brings and the passion I can see back in his eyes again, he’s enjoying his time and starting to talk about how long he’s going to play for, that’s exciting for us.
“We want to keep him around for as long as we can and having him for the full season last year and again this year will be excellent for not only us as coaches but the young blokes as well.”
The Tigers recruited former Australia ODI paceman Gurinder Sandhu from NSW, 19-year-old quick Lawrence Neil-Smith and promoted three local prospects during the off-season.
In the process they waved goodbye to experienced trio Cameron Boyce, Ben Dunk and Andrew Fekete along with Jake Hancock, Corey Murfet, Andrew Perrin and Cameron Stevenson.
Tasmania’s quest to go one better in this Shield season starts at the Gabba against the Bulls with six rounds to be played before Christmas – giving players a chance to stake claims for Test selection.
“Our first three games are away and then we have three at home – we don’t mind that because it gives you an opportunity to get on the road as a group and start to gel and drive the way we want to play the game,” Griffith said.
“The Gabba and WACA will suit our quicks well and then anytime you get the chance to play on the SCG is really good.
“Last year when we played there it was the first time for a lot of our guys, which is pretty exciting, and like last year when we were able to play some games at home in a row we were able to build some momentum.
“If we can do the same thing this year before the Big Bash we will be happy.”