Graeme Welch believes that Derbyshire will be big beneficiaries of his spell on the England Lions coaching staff in Dubai.
Welch will return to his day job at the 3aaa County Ground this week after 10 days of working with a new group of players and coaches which have provided a thought-provoking mid-winter tonic.
“It’s the people you meet who make a trip like this so valuable,” he told ecb.co.uk. “It’s a group of coaches like Andy Flower and Gary Kirsten who were all new to me, and talking and working with them has given me some new ideas, but also reinforced plenty of my own.
“I’ve been working mostly with the pace bowlers and that’s been a pleasure because they’re a great group of lads. These are exciting times for English cricket aren’t they, when you see what Stuart Broad and the others have been doing in South Africa?
“And it’s just as exciting to look at the lads out with the Lions and see what’s on the way through. They’re talented, and they’ve got a great attitude to working which is just as important. I’ll certainly be following how they do with extra interest this summer.”
Welch’s appointment to the Lions staff also gave him the opportunity to see first-hand the progress being made by Matt Critchley, the Wigan-born leg-spinner who became Derbyshire’s youngest first-class centurion on only his second appearance last summer, and was invited to join the party by Flower after impressing in their preparations for the Twenty20 series against Pakistan A at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough last autumn.
“I think it’s great for Derbyshire that Matt’s out here, especially because he’s made such a positive impression,” added the county’s elite cricket performance director. “It could have been daunting for him but he’s settled in with the lads, and he’s come on a bomb in all sorts of ways, not just his bowling.”
Critchley will stay with the squad for a few more days, leaving after the start of the five-match 50-over series against Pakistan A on Wednesday – by which time Welch will already have re-immersed himself in Derbyshire’s preparations for the 2016 season.