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Keeping our eyes on the prize

As I write this, we’re just a few days out from that all-important third test against England, at Lord’s. I’m facing a fitness test in the days leading up to the game, but I’m confident of coming through it, having enjoyed a nice week’s rest, along with some rehab and physio work.

I’ve also done a fair amount of net work – I’ve actually batted in the nets almost every day. That’s because the problem with my hamstring only concerns my running. Batting is not a problem – I’m just making sure I can run properly in what is a really big test match for us.

Off the field it’s been pretty relaxing, with us enjoying a good three days off after the second test. Until Monday, we were in Derby on a rather nice golf estate, just outside the city centre. The focus for most of the guys was the two-day game against Derbyshire, but I obviously didn’t take part, due to my hamstring.

There’s been plenty of golf played, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of the handicaps come down after the tour! Aside from the golf, there’s been a lot of chilling taking place, in and around the hotel, which is located on the golf estate – so, it’s a rather beautiful setting and the perfect place in which to relax.

Obviously, in between net sessions and physio/rehab sessions, I’ve had to make sure that I’ve spent some time off my feet. So, there’s been a bit of time lying on the hotel bed, watching movies or listening to music. Denzel Washington is my favourite actor and his movies are a priority. If it’s music, you’ll find me listening to most things, but not any of the hard, dance stuff with a hardcore beat. I’m more on the R&B side of things and like the quieter stuff. Otherwise, it’s been time in the gym, making sure the body is right.

Now we’re in London and the first thing we did when we arrived was head to Lord’s to start our preparations for the third test. That was even before we checked into the hotel.

Lord’s really is a special place to play cricket, although I’ve had the benefit of having played here before, in county cricket. You may or may not be aware of the tradition, whereby a player’s name goes up on the honours board at Lord’s, if he scores a test century or takes five wickets. I was asked if that was on my mind, when walking around the place for the first time in a while. Obviously, that would be a great honour, but to be honest, that’s not the thing on my mind right now. My focus has been getting back to the basics and making sure my preparation follows the right pattern.

We’re professionals and if you start thinking about things like the honours board, then you start taking your focus off what’s important, and anything can happen to you. The biggest thing for me, is that it’s a test match for my country and I want to contribute, and contribute in a big way to us hopefully becoming the No 1 test team in the world.

We have a really big test match ahead and we’re all pretty excited about it. We’re quietly confident and the aim is to keep doing the things that have worked for us. It may sound a bit boring, but you’ve seen me talk about our ‘processes’, and that’s what has done the job for us.

Our preparation has been good and I’ve seen that through the intensity of some of our training sessions. The first session at Lord’s on Monday comes to mind, where the guys got off the bus after nearly three hours of travelling, and just put in a really hard-working session.

That’s what has impressed me about my teammates and I know all of us, including team management, have left no stone unturned, in ensuring that we have ticked every box, ahead of this important test match.

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