Schwerdt has been particularly impressed by the youngsters on the training track who have stepped up in the absence of captain Travis Head and leaders Alex Carey, Kane Richardson and Callum Ferguson who have been playing for Australia and county cricket in England.

“For me that’s probably been the biggest highlight for me out of everything we’ve done,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of players away with either the Aussies or in England playing cricket and that’s what we want.

“We want our players playing at the next level or testing themselves against higher levels of competition. That’s great for us and also great for the boys back here because they can take another step and drive the program.”

Schwerdt pleased with pre-season progress

Since Schwerdt’s appointment from the Gold Coast Suns in 2015, he has pioneered a fitness revolution of sorts at SACA as the demands of the game continue to rise.

A typical week during pre-season is a tough one for the squad, with hard running days on Monday and Friday, including personal development on Thursday and a Saturday morning sweat session.

Conditioning is combined with a meticulous attention to skills including net sessions, bowling and fielding work.

While the bar continues to be raised in all aspects of the program each year, Schwerdt said the overall fitness of the squad has allowed an increased focus on skill work this pre-season.

“We aim to be world’s best in the way that we prepare and so we’re always striving to get better in a lot of ways,” he said.

“Whilst physical aspects are important, trying to improve in the skills aspects has been a bit more of a focus (this year).

“We’ve put a lot into the skill work and that’s been a big focus because the boys are in better nick than maybe they were a couple of years ago.”                                                                                                                          

The Redbacks now have a week’s break in what is a “strategic mental and physical refresher” before training re-commences next Monday.

They will open their JLT One-Day Cup campaign against the New South Wales Blues at the WACA on Thursday, 20 September.