The Ashes: England have backroom bases covered


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The Independent Online

Delivering Kevin Pietersen back to the brink of full fitness is the latest triumph of England's backroom team, but it should be no surprise – they have the best support staff in the game.

The National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough has been a success since it was established in 2003, a crucial part of England teams at every level.

It is an all-year facility with nets, indoor and outdoor pitches, plus a fitness and rehabilitation centre, the home of the science and medicine team who have helped England's best batsman overcome his calf strain to be fit for the start of the third Test.

Then there is the advanced technology, not just the Merlin machine but "Pro Batter", a machine which can mimic the action and style of almost every bowler in international cricket.

Beyond the conventional staff, too, there are the very successful personal development and welfare team and performance psychology team. The former uses, amongst other methods, Myers-Briggs personality tests to judge how best to motivate players. The latter includes the well-respected psychologist Dr Mark Bawden.

They also work with England's promising young cricketers and the top teenagers. The effects could be felt for years.