Paul Franks believes his World Cup experience with the United Arab Emirates will be of big benefit to the youngsters at Nottinghamshire CCC as the new season approaches.
Mansfield-born Franks (36) was appointed assistant coach for the UAE in January, supporting head coach Aaqib Javed.
And although the team lost all of its six matches in Australia and New Zealand, Franks says he took a great deal from the experience that he can apply at Trent Bridge, primarily in his role as academy coach but also as a player.
He said: “It was a fantastic experience, both for UAE cricket and on an individual level too.
“We came close to getting good results on a couple of occasions but on the whole it was a real eye-opener and UAE cricket is definitely in a better place than before.
“I was able to spend a lot of time observing what turned out to be the four semi-finalists, watching them train and noting what they do well whilst also picking up some new tricks and initiatives that I could apply not only with UAE but also with the youngsters here at Notts.
“The good thing here is that the youngsters have asked lots of questions and been keen to learn new things. I don’t want to fire everything at them straight away so it’ll be important to be sensitive in terms of what to use and when to use it.
“It was also encouraging to see that many of the things we already do here are echoed at that kind of level and with a few tweaks here and there we could make those things that bit more effective.”
Back on a domestic level, like many involved with Notts, Franks is keen to see a contribution to the Trent Bridge trophy cabinet made in 2015.
A fourth-place finish in the LV County Championship last year was complemented by a quarter-final defeat in the T20 Blast - their fourth successive home loss at that stage - and a semi-final exit in the Royal London One Day Cup to Durham. And Franks believes the quality is in the Notts ranks this year to push on in all competitions and mount a challenge for silverware.
He said: “The group feel as though there should be some silverware not too far away.
“There have been quite a lot of changes in the last few years and a high turnover of senior players but we’ve managed to remain competitive.
“Lots is being made of the failure to get past the T20 quarter-finals but I don’t buy into it, personally. I think it’s a game lost in isolation but they’re tough games once you get to that stage, as we’ve seen in the World Cup and the domestic competitions.
“So I think we need to relax our stance on it a bit and not make such a big deal of it otherwise it can become too much of a psychological barrier. We just need to let the lads play cricket and eventually it’ll happen for them.”
Franks was a member of the 2005 and 2010 County Championship-winning squads and believes there isn’t too much difference between those successful teams and that being put together at Trent Bridge for this season.
He added: “We’re not too far off. We’ve made some really good signings including that of Brendan Taylor who I think is a world class addition, so there’s a lot of strength in depth which is important given it’s such a long season.
“Some of the younger players are also a lot closer to the first team now than they probably have been before, which is where I come in as academy coach to make sure they’re ready to go if called upon.
“In 2005 and 2010 the whole team played well so that needs to happen again as well as individuals taking responsibility for their own games and making sure that when we need big runs and guys to stand up and take five wickets for us, that’s what we’re going to get.
“A good start will, as always, be important but we won’t over-emphasise too much. There’s a lot of cricket to be played between now and September so as long we’re sensitive in terms of how we plot our way through our season and don’t get too far ahead or too far behind ourselves or take too much for granted, we’ll do well.”
In terms of the LV County Championship as a whole, Franks, who feels he still has something to offer on a the playing front as well as a coach, believes it will be a competitive year.
He said: “Yorkshire will be hampered by the loss of their England players but they have good depth which will give them the opportunity to give some decent young players a chance to shine, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll cope with the expectation and with the pressure of being favourites in many people’s eyes.
“Somerset also look strong and I’ve got a lot of time for Matthew Maynard who is director of cricket down there and also think Marcus Trescothick will want to sign off with some silverware too as he’s been a fantastic player over the years.
“Warwickshire and ourselves also look strong so I think there are probably four or five teams who might think they can win it this year and a few others who will fancy upsetting the top sides, so it’ll be competitive and every game will count.
“From our point of view, as long as we plan our way through the season sensibly then we can be in contention come August and September.
“My own future lies in coaching now but I’ll still take to the field if required and I’m confident the players who are here now will do well.”