GARETH Andrew is confident he can put two years of injury problems behind him and help lead Worcestershire to more success this season.
The 30-year-old all-rounder claimed impressive match figures of 8-85 in the LV= County Championship Division Two win over Kent and is showing signs of returning to top form.
Successive knee and back injuries have hampered the former Somerset player in recent seasons.
But Andrew is optimistic over maintaining his fitness and returning to the level that saw him finish runner-up to Marcus Trescothick in the 2011 PCA MVP rankings.
Andrew said: “I had a big lay-off at the end of last season due to the back injury so it has been a long time coming.
“There is a lot of hard work that goes on in the winter that is unseen but the physio (Ben Davies) and strength and conditioning coach (Ross Dewar) got me through, working hard every day, and we are maintaining that – hopefully through the rest of the season.
“We are back in training in the first week of November, but it is about the hard work we do in the winter to try to keep ourselves fit though the summer.
“It is such a long summer and the bowlers who play all formats, like myself, don’t get any time off.
“It’s just about a lot of maintenance in the summer and trying to keep on top of little niggles and hiccups here and there.”
A new feature of Andrew’s bowling style this term is a shortened run-up that he has worked on with New Road bowling coach Matt Mason.
“I was just trying to save my legs,” Andrew smiled.
“Playing one-day, Twenty20 and four-day cricket, if I can cut my run-up down without detriment to my bowling, I’m very happy.
“I can always get a lot out of a short run. It is something I’ve been working on for the last couple of years with Matt.
“We played around with it for a couple of days in pre-season and one just stuck. I’ve just gone with it and it seems to be working at the moment.”
On the 125-run success over Kent that followed an impressive draw at Hampshire in the opening round of the season, Andrew said: “To get a result on that type of wicket was a massive win for us and a positive going forward if we do have to play on wickets like that in the future.
“I picked up some wickets, but as a bowling unit we were just so patient. We did all the right things well and when your bowlers do that, someone is going to pick up the wickets.
“This game it was me but in the next match it could be Shants (Jack Shantry) or Charlie Morris or one of the spinners.
“We’re pretty disciplined. We take it very seriously. We do a lot of hard work in the winter with Mase just on the finer skills and in this game it has paid off for us.”