Player Diary: Laura Jackson on the expanded schedule, winter training and contract renewals
The expanded regional schedule for next summer is all we’ve been asking for as players. We’ve just wanted to play more games. So to get that request granted is fantastic.
With more games, things will only get more professional across the board.
There will be a number of different aspects that come into play, whether it be depth of squads tested due to more injuries or certain players being selected for different fixtures due to better match-ups. A batter, for example, might be stronger against away swing or not.
I’m really interested and excited to see a different side of regional cricket on the back of the increase.
The only downside is that there hasn’t been a longer format included in the schedule. But we’ve got a few weeks off while the Ashes are on, and hopefully that’s when we will be able to sort some friendlies out. I really hope that happens.
All in all, though, we’re over the moon with the added eight fixtures across the two competitions.
At the end of the day, we’re just here to play cricket and before there was quite a lot of training and not too many games.
We have home matches scheduled for both Blackpool and Sedbergh, two venues we haven’t yet played at.
I’ve never been to Sedbergh. I’m really excited about that, although there is a slight concern over how early I’m going to have to get up to get there on time. And let’s hope there are no deers on the M6!
Our new signings, Fi Morris, Naomi Dattani and Tara Norris, have settled in lovely with the squad.
We’re in three separate groups for training at the minute, and they’re not actually in my group. But I see them in the gym and down at the track, and they’re really hard workers.
We have a lot of hard workers in the squad, but having a few more never hurts and just helps to drive that standard up. They’re a lovely bunch as well.
Different players have different aims at this stage of the season.
It was lovely to have the England girls back training with us before they jetted off to the Caribbean, while Libby Heap and Seren Smale have been preparing for the Under 19s World Cup, mostly at Loughborough.
Phoebe Graham is going over to New Zealand to play in the next week or two, so she’s been getting all of her workloads up and facing the white ball.
But the likes of Ellie Threlkeld and myself, for example, are not going anywhere and we’ve taken our batting right down to basics.
I’ve changed my batting grip, which has been a part of that.
I’m very bottom handed, and I want to even things out a bit more. So I’ve not been on the bowling machine and have just been batting against under-arm.
With the ball, I’ve been working on my variations.
Last season was a difficult one for me with the bat.
I was constantly in talks with the coaches about going up the order, and there was a definite will from both sides for that to happen.
I’d had a good tour to Dubai in pre-season batting wise, but unfortunately the opportunity never really came about.
The decision was taken to play a batter or two more, which I was in favour of. And that meant I would be batting down at eight or nine.
But this winter work is designed to help me challenge the batters more.
Winter training has not just been limited to the gym or the indoor nets at Emirates Old Trafford.
On Sunday, we visited a gymnastics club to learn about the different methods they use for training and to see if there was anything we could implement.
I’d have loved to have got on the bars and had a crack at somersaults and stuff. But that could have really put a spanner in the works of winter training.
It was more learning about how gymnasts build all of their strength through bodyweight work rather than the traditional gym sessions we may do.
Cricket wise, we’ve also been fielding down at a site near Manchester City’s ground, on a 4G astro surface.
We’ve been able to dive, which we can’t do on the hard indoor surface at Old Trafford. That’s been good fun as well.
Since I last blogged, the new contracts and renewals for the next couple of years have been announced. And I was delighted to be awarded a two-year renewal.
It’s a fantastic feeling to know a team really believes in you and wants you for the long-term. It definitely gives you that extra bit of fire.
It’s a great team to be a part of here at Thunder, and I’m confident good things are ahead for us.