Somerset - Caddick on course
Andrew Caddick could be making his return for Somerset in time for the new season only three months after undergoing back surgery.
Last Updated: 02/04/08 4:06pm
Paceman Andrew Caddick could be making his return for Somerset in time for the new county season, only three months after undergoing back surgery.
The 39-year-old underwent the operation on Christmas Eve but his rate of recovery has given last season's Division Two champions the hope that he might be back this month.
Caddick is said to be around 85 percent fit currently - having built up his workload on Somerset's pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi - and on course to face Lancashire in the club's LV County Championship opener on April 23rd.
"It is obviously a team game but for us there are certain key individuals in the side," said Somerset coach Andy Hurry.
"Being realistic, it would be a harder challenge for us if Caddick was not 100 percent fit but he has progressed really nicely.
"The sun in Abu Dhabi certainly benefited his back and he was able to train for longer than he would have been able to back home.
"So we are optimistic he will be ready for the start of the season - the way he has progressed has been really encouraging and there is no reason to think otherwise."
Somerset's dominance last season was largely based around their batting line-up, with Marcus Trescothick, Justin Langer and James Hildreth among five players to register 1,000 runs.
However, faced with huge totals to defend, opposing teams often proceeded to surrender to Caddick and new-ball partner Charl Willoughby - meaning the strength in depth of Somerset's attack was not tested.
However, their return to the top flight is complemented by the return of Ben Phillips, who missed the entire last campaign through injury.
And another Somerset bowler of more venerable years, Steffan Jones, claimed 11 wickets in four matches at the Pro Arabian Cricket Challenge.
"Last year, I didn't bowl a lot obviously with Caddy and Charl bowling everyone out," the 34-year-old Jones said.
"I went out to Tasmania to play club cricket this winter, got a few overs under my belt and lost about 10 kilograms in weight.
"I did more cardiovascular stuff because your metabolism slows down a bit when you get past 30.
"I still do a lot of weights because I believe a lot in strength, power and speed - but it was getting hard to get to the crease being over 16-and-a-half stone."
Somerset also hope to boost their squad ahead of the season by completing the signing of South African all-rounder Alfonso Thomas.
"There is a lot of competition within the squad this year, which is a good thing," added Jones.
"If we hadn't won last year, we needed hanging because the players we had were not just good county players but world-class players in JL and Trescothick and Hildreth, who is coming through and is as good as any."