Back at the ground on Monday, the squad turned their attention to more competitive training than before the break, introducing more cricket-based work and net sessions after two months of fitness training prior to Christmas.
With individual training plans in place, designed to enhance players’ strengths and to work on their weaknesses, the squad underwent a fresh fitness programme towards the end of 2017. Now with one eye on the season opener in April, Hughes is looking forward to a return to batting after a chance to rest over the holiday.
He said: “It’s always nice to get some time with your family over Christmas. We train hard in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so when we get this time off, we can relax our bodies. However, when we’re back, we hit it hard and make sure we’re at 100 per cent.
“There has been no time for settling ourselves in. We were straight back into hard training and soon it will be time for the nets, complete with more competitive training.
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“The lads will be up for it and I’m looking forward to getting the bat back in my hand and bowling a few of my teammates out.
“You’ve always got half of your mind on your fitness still, but now we’re in the New Year and ahead of the first game in April, it’s about getting yourself right so you can go into the season with confidence in your own game.”
Hughes enjoyed a career-best campaign with the bat in 2017, including 800 first-class runs at an average of 40. But despite 75 career wickets for Derbyshire across all forms, the all-rounder featured less with the ball last season, something he hopes to rectify in 2018.
He added: “I always enjoy bowling. Last year, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to bowl, but whenever the captain turns to me, I’ll be ready and, hopefully, I will be able to do a job for the team.
“You can never get too far ahead of yourself, so over the winter, I have been trying to improve little things about my game. Hopefully, the new season will be similar or better than the last.”