ALASTAIR Cook has revealed there has been no batting practice scheduled for England’s four-day training camp in Spain.
A 14-man squad departs today for a pre-Ashes get-together as Cook and the rest of the England team build a rapport with incoming coach Trevor Bayliss ahead of a crucial summer.
While fielding and bowling drills will be organised during the four-day trip, with Cook also keen to formulate plans to regain the urn this summer, England’s batsmen will not be put through their paces.
Despite batting collapses in Tests against West Indies and New Zealand this year and the first Ashes match in Cardiff less than two weeks away, Cook believes a rest is in order for the likes of Joe Root, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance.
The trio have already endured a hectic workload this year, which has encompassed a World Cup, a tour to the Caribbean and a home series against the Kiwis.
Cook, therefore, believes giving them a break will benefit the team in the long run.
He confirmed yesterday: “[There will be] no batting in this camp. All the guys have played a hell of a lot of cricket since the West Indies tour, even before that the guys [who played] at the World Cup had about a week off.
“So the guys have played a lot of cricket, we don’t need to constantly train, we don’t lose it in two or three days of not picking up a bat.
“The Ashes summer is a really big summer and being refreshed and ready to go at the start of it is absolutely vital as well. Two or three days out not picking up a bat will not do any harm.”
Cook is relishing the opportunity to work with Bayliss, the first Australian to take charge of England for an Ashes series.
“I actually just saw him about 20 minutes ago for the first time here at Lord’s,” said Cook.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting him properly and that’s how important Spain is for us as a side that we get to know Trevor, he gets to know us a little bit and we can start plotting the next seven or eight weeks together.”
Bayliss’ appointment has been hailed as a masterstroke by some as the former Sri Lanka coach may have plenty of inside knowledge on the likes of Australia Test captain Michael Clarke and star batsmen Steven Smith and David Warner following his time at New South Wales.
“Trevor’s knowledge of cricket, but in particular of Australian cricket, is going to be second to none,” added Cook.
“Absolutely we’re going to try and use that to our advantage.”
England have already been given a boost in recent weeks by their performances, in all formats, against New Zealand, drawing the Test series before edging to a 3-2 victory in five pulsating ODIs and then winning the one-off Twenty20.
The upturn in fortunes has given the nation a lift, according to Cook and it is one he is desperate to carry on against the touring Australians.
“It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks for English cricket, the New Zealand series, both the Test matches and one-dayers were fantastic to play in and to watch over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“I think everyone’s getting this excitement back in cricket, it’s a real feelgood factor about the game. That’s a great place for English cricket to be in and we can use that over the next seven to eight weeks.”
Seamer Stuart Broad is looking forward to renewing hostilities with Australia, whose captain Clarke said earlier this week that his side will not be shrinking away from confrontation.
Broad is well aware of the tourists’ antics having played in four Ashes series and been the subject of extreme hostility during England’s 2013-14 whitewash defeat Down Under.
But he thinks England will be up to the challenge.
“Having had some decent experience of Ashes series, I’m not sure it will be as polite as the New Zealand series,” he said.
“It’s important against Australia you front up but you don’t have to say anything, you just have to have that look in your eye that you have that presence on the field.
“That doesn’t take away the fact that you can smile and enjoy your cricket.”