LAST Tuesday I attended a dinner for any player that has represented England.

It was great seeing so many old mates I had played with and against over the years - including old muckers I played with at Essex such as J K Lever, Derek Pringle, John Stephenson and Graham Gooch.

Andrew Strauss arranged this event to try to promote English spirit - with the past players part of it to help give the current players an idea of the legacy of what being an England player means.

Looking back brought back memories of this time of year.

We would not be back in for pre-season training yet, with only a two hour Monday night net as preparation followed by training around Chelmer Park along with outdoor nets at the County Ground.

The physical training was led by J K Lever and was a mixture of jogging and sprinting on flat and hilly ground around the park. Now Essex, along with almost all of the counties, go abroad and do warm weather training in Dubai.

While I would have loved this opportunity, I am not at all convinced the cost of such a venture is money well spent. The training in basic conditions and cold weather helped to toughen us up and while training in hot weather is great for the body it is not great preparation for our colder climate in April and May.

Talking of playing in hot weather, it has been great to see Tom Westley doing so well with England A in Sri Lanka.

When Tom first appeared at the academy we all thought he had great ability and a great temperament, so quietly expected great things. In truth it has been a little bit of a slow burn watching his career evolve from a distance, but I think he is now maturing into a fine player who is quite rightly being talked of in England circles.

With the emergence of (Keaton) Jennings and (Haseeb) Hameed there is real competition at the top end of England’s batting line-up, but with a strong start to the season Tom stands every chance going forward.