Derbyshire skipper Madsen happy with Sri Lanka experience despite hitches along the way
THE latest stage of Derbyshire's pre-season preparations did not, by any means, go smoothly.
Starting with bout of cricket politics that forced a late change of venue, seven members of the county club's first-team squad had to battle with sapping humidity and a sickness bug during their stay in Sri Lanka.
They even suffered disruption through rain towards the end of their stay but captain Wayne Madsen said the players still took plenty of benefit from the trip.
"The first four or five days of practice, especially, were very good," said Madsen.
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"Time when you are able to get outdoors at this stage of the year is always going to be valuable.
"The bowlers were able to take a full run-up and bowl on proper wickets, the wicketkeepers gained experience behind the stumps on turning wickets and the batters were out there for two or two and a half hours at a time.
"All of us took a lot from it and we are looking forward to stepping that up when we go to Barbados next month."
In one of his batting sessions, Madsen was persuaded to face a local spin bowler without wearing his front pad.
"The coach suggested I take off the pad to make me play him with the bat," he explained.
"I was up against this Ajantha Mendis lookalike who was bowling loads of carrom balls at me and I did not have a clue which way the ball was going for the first couple.
"I started to pick it up out of the hand after that and did all right. It certainly makes you concentrate harder playing without a front pad because you don't want to end up with a lump the size of an egg on your shin!"
The seven Derbyshire players – Madsen, Tony Palladino, Richard Johnson, Tom Poynton, Mark Turner, Dan Redfern and Tom Knight – were due to go to Pune in India for the trip but had to make different arrangements when the Indian authorities, the BCCI, imposed a blanket ban on English counties using their facilities for pre-season training.
The move was allegedly in response to their 2-1 defeat by England in this winter's Test series.
Sri Lanka was offered by the trip organisers as an alternative but the switch was not entirely like for like.
"We struggled a bit with the heat and the guys who made the trip last year said the humidity was at a different level to India," added Madsen.
"We learned to cope with that but Dino had to miss a couple of days after picking up some sort of virus and then Jonners, Knighty and TP went down with the same thing.
"It might have been food poisoning. You do take measures to try to prevent this sort of thing and the hygiene at the hotel was good but there might have been a problem with the place we went for lunch sometimes.
"They had to miss a couple of days each and then it rained for the last couple of days, so none of us could do much. That was a bit frustrating for us."
Madsen has been having treatment for a slight groin problem since returning from Sri Lanka but says he expects to be fully fit again for the trip to Barbados from March 11-22.
"Barbados has been a huge part of our pre-season for the last three years and has given us momentum to take into the season," he said.
"We get good practice and competitive action against other county sides and that's invaluable for us.
"We made a good start to the season last year because of Barbados and hopefully we can do the same again this year."