Preparing thoroughbreds for action is something Jamie Overton knows about.
The Surrey all-rounder spent three months of the 2020-21 winter working with leading racing trainer Paul Nicholls and believes there are lessons to absorb.
Overton, 26, switched to the Kia Oval from his native Somerset during last year’s pandemic-shortened season and shone more with bat than ball as he produced several typically hard-hitting innings during Surrey’s march to the Vitality Blast final.
His other love – the turf – kept him occupied during the off-season at Nicholls’s yard at Ditcheat in Somerset.
“There are definitely similarities to cricket – everyone has a programme specially designed for them, although I can’t give any secrets away,” said Overton, who is relishing the start of his first full summer at Surrey.
“I feel really settled in. I moved for the final month of last season and that’s been helpful because it gave me a chance to meet everyone and know the faces.”
Where does speedster Overton see his game now?
“I think bowling is my strongest suit and I came here for the chance to take the new ball, having used the old one for the past eight years. But that doesn’t mean I’d be unhappy with the old one. I’d love to bat seven or eight in the team.
“I’ve been working on my action, so that bowling fast is smoother rather than muscling it down. Pace helps but you’ve still got to put the ball in the right areas as well.”
The new-look LV= County Championship, which features three groups, offers Overton an opportunity to meet his old county – and in particular his twin brother Craig, who spearheads the Somerset attack.
Surrey head to Taunton on May 13 with the return match in July. Jamie admits it will feel a bit odd: “I wouldn’t say I’m apprehensive but going back to the ground I called home for 20 years will be strange, especially playing against Craig rather than being in the same team.”
Like everyone else, Overton cannot wait for the return of crowds to cricket – currently scheduled for mid-May, in limited form – having played every match of his short Surrey career so far behind closed doors. He explained: “I’m really looking forward to having 25,000 at The Oval. I miss the crowds. I want to play for England and that’s a big part of international cricket, learning how to deal with that atmosphere.”
Overton enjoyed some winter cricket when he took part in the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament in January and February but it will be the County Championship which occupies his mind for the early stages of the new domestic campaign. If he can build on his haul of 179 first-class wickets at 19 from 69 appearances, then it will give Surrey impetus and could open up a spot in England’s Ashes squad.