THE efforts of skipper Joe Leach, Josh Tongue and Ed Barnard with the ball were a key factor in Worcestershire gaining promotion back to County Championship Division One as they collected 163 wickets between them.

But another vital statistic was the sheer durability of the trio with all three able to play in all 14 Championship matches during the 2017 campaign.

It was not down to good fortune and “multiple factors” are responsible for this, according to Ben Davies, the County’s head of sports science and medicine.

Davies and strength and conditioning coach Ross Dewar’s sterling efforts have been well documented with Leach praising their “phenomenal” efforts in keeping players out in the middle during a gruelling six-month season.

But Davies also cites the professionalism of the players and constant communication between all parties as key areas and also the trust in each other.

He said: “We looked at the overs bowled and those three players, Joe, Josh and Ed, if you combine match overs and training overs, bowled 750 overs for the season which obviously is a really good effort.

“I think it (staying fit) comes down to multiple factors. The players are unbelievably professional in their preparation for games.

“They are in the gym from 8am every day on match days preparing for the game, a warm-up for their warm-up.

“We are very lucky we’ve got a bowling group like that.

“Another factor is myself, Ross, the players and coaching staff have constant communication regarding work loads, how the players are travelling, if they need a day off training or if they need to bowl a bit more in training.

“We are quite conscious of under-bowling people as well so on occasions we’ve got the bowlers in on a scheduled day off to have a bowl to top them up and keep them ticking over.

“We also monitor five or six weekly scores to see how their strength is going and if they are maintaining strength which this year they have.

"We measure three or four different ranges of movement just to see how they are travelling as well.

“There is constant communication between everyone. If we say ‘Player X needs to have a day off training, they bowled a lot last week and are a little bit stiff’ they will give us that day.

“In the same way if we say to the players ‘Lads we are sorry, we know Tuesday is a scheduled day off but you need to come in and bowl five or six overs with Mase (coach Matt Mason), they will come in and do it.

“It works. The proof is in the pudding. There is a high level of trust between everyone. Monitoring work-load is the biggest way you can keep people fit.

“Impact injuries like a broken finger you can’t do anything about but with muscle injuries you can have a big impact.”

Tongue and fellow promising paceman George Scrimshaw have both had to overcome stress fractures of the back.

Davies said: “It is all about skeletal maturity basically. You are not really skeletally mature until you are aged around 21.

“These lads who are under 21 are always going to be prone to bone stress when they are trying to bowl at 90 miles an hour.

“You have to try to ride the wave and balance load bowling with strength work and constantly try to balance that out.

“No one has got a set magic formula that you can use and guide these lads through because all players are different.

“Josh unfortunately had to have surgery because his stress area wouldn’t settle. George’s will heal. It’s a different kind of scenario with a similar area of the lower back.

“Scrimmy is just time, load and patience and we will see the benefits over the next few years.

“If all goes to plan he hopefully gets fit for the start of next season and all of a sudden have a year like Josh and then you’ve got two of them on your hands.

“It’s about patience, balance, monitoring things and communication. All those things are important.”