Derbyshire players enjoy time in the kitchen as part of team-building exercise

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On the face of it, a day in the kitchen would seem to have little relevance for the professional cricketer.

A square cut is probably as close as a player comes to dicing onions or slicing carrots but Derbyshire’s squad has been expanding its horizons in preparation for the new season.

A team-building day at Coghlans Cookery School in Chesterfield in January was one of several initiatives employed by Derbyshire elite performance director Graeme Welch who believes improving the players as people and not just as cricketers is an integral part of his brief.

The venture, which was organised jointly with the Professional Cricketers Association, followed a visit to a hospice and a session of gymnastics.

Welch is confident the experiences outside of cricket will stand the players in good stead over the next six months.

“Since November when the lads came back, we’ve seen them grow as men and as individuals,” he said.

“When I first arrived here I thought I was micro-managing everything but overtime I’ve seen them grow up.

“When I came I said part of it was about me trying to develop them not just as cricketers but as human beings as well to get them prepared for life because a lot of them are young lads. It’s about doing the right thing and being respectful and having good attitudes .

“If you do the right things as a human being, when things go against you, you’ve always got a reference point to fall back on and that’s what we’ve tried to give them in the winter, whether it’s one technical point or one mental point , just something they can fall back on to help them get back up to speed.”

In recent seasons, Derbyshire have tended to buckle when the pressure has been on but Welch is hoping his team will be more resilient this season.

“We sent them out to hospices and cookery schools to try and give them a different perspective and grow them as individuals to be able to get over the adversity when it kicks in .

“We’ve actually seen evidence of it with some looking more like men now. What we want is for them to learn from the experiences, we don’t mind them making mistakes as long as they learn and there’s evidence that is happening.

“Before Christmas they went to the Chesterfield hospice to help out and we also did gymnastics to make them more agile . We are just trying to push them all the time to make them more rounded as individuals.”