ABOUT this time last year, Yorkshire's squad were preparing for their pre-season tour of Dubai.

A small group of bowlers had gone out to the gulf state early in order to get up to speed.

But, unfortunately for Jack Brooks, it was a time he would rather forget as he suffered a damaging calf injury which had a significant impact on a largely frustrating summer.

This year, the new-ball seamer is in a completely different mood, having admitted: "I couldn't have asked for a better winter so far."

On Wednesday, Brooks and his Yorkshire team-mates fly to South Africa for this year's 13-day pre-season tour, and it is one the 33-year-old is relishing.

"I was limping around all of last year's pre-season tour," he recalled, "and I've been trying not to think about it too much.

"But last winter was completely different to how this one's gone. It's a massive contrast, thankfully.

"Last year I had niggles all the way through, almost from coming back into training, and my fitness just didn't go anywhere. It obviously heavily affected my season.

"Now I'm feeling as fit and as strong as ever.

"It never gets easier as you get older, but I'm in a really good place mentally and physically at the moment."

Yorkshire's squad will make the 90-minute journey from Johannesburg to their base at the NWU PUK Sports Village in Potchefstroom – a facility Brooks knows well.

He added: "I've been to Potch four or five times previously for different things, a Lions tour included.

"South Africa is a brilliant place to go, and Potch is an amazing set-up.

"You're training at altitude, so it will be a bit harder for the lads, but I'm sure we'll enjoy it, and it will be extremely useful for us."

* by Graham Hardcastle

in association with Yorkshire CCC