Kirby already putting in extra training ahead of his team-mates
SOMERSET'S players return for pre-season fitness testing next Monday – but Steve Kirby has spent much of the autumn putting in the hard yards.
There are two reasons for the seamer's regular visits to the gym at the County Ground. For one, he does not want to be caught out when the players are put through their paces next week, and he does not want to be lagging behind Somerset's super-fit youngsters.
Having recently turned 35, Kirby knows he is approaching the final stages of his career, but he is eager to remain at the top of the game for as long as he continues to play first-class cricket.
"I've been in two or three times a week – the reason being that, when you get back in here in the first week of November, it gets hit quite hard," said Kirby.
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"And I didn't want that first couple of weeks to be too much of a shock to the system. Also, the rest of the lads are ridiculously strong and fit, so I want to still be somewhere there or thereabouts, although I won't be, because I'm getting on a bit now!
"But you can't play the sheer volume of cricket that we play now, and at that intensity, without having a very good, strong off-season.
"And the culture that has been developed here over the last five or six years is one of the main reasons I wanted to be here.
"It might sound a bit arrogant to say it, but they have been pioneers, in the sense that Somerset were the first to create that real culture. It's very, very professional."
Those players who are not away on international duty or playing stints overseas will be back to work on Monday, with a full-on fitness schedule until Christmas.
After a break over the festive period, the training becomes more skills-orientated in the new year – and Kirby is relishing every day of hard work that lies ahead.
Somerset finished runners-up in the LV= County Championship, as well as losing in the Friends Life t20 semi-finals, and will be looking to improve under their yet-to-be-appointed new director of cricket next summer. "I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but you can't not want to come in and train in an environment like this, with the lads you've got around you," said Kirby.
"I'm getting towards the end of my career but I still want to stay at the peak – and I'm not the only one.
"To do that, you've got to put the hard work in, and that's what we're doing now.
"It fully kicks in next week and it's a big season ahead. We've got a new director of cricket coming in and you want to impress.
"But, like anything, you can't think about what happened last season – it's about what we do from now on and it's about getting better as individuals and as a team."