British sailor Matthew Fisher has revealed how he looks to Australia for inspiration as he rebuilds a more muscular body during his recent rehabilitation.
The Yorkshireman made his Test debut in Barbados last March, taking a wicket with his second delivery in international cricket, only to suffer a stress fracture in his lower back in the first county game of the summer.
This led to another injury postponement for a 25-year-old who had seen more than his fair share of treatment tables over the years, but returned to make a comeback in the final game of the season.
He’ll step things up when he heads to Sri Lanka with the England Lions later this week, where he’ll showcase a new bloated physique – a change he’s been seeking in part in response to his conditioning problems.
“When I looked in the mirror I thought, ‘I don’t look as solid as some of the players I saw this winter and maybe that’s something to look at,'” he said.
“It’s not just about gaining weight, I wanted to build the muscles that would help me get stronger to withstand the bowling action. I went from 86 kg to 91 but my skin folds are very similar, namely muscle. I feel much stronger now. I think I look more like a man than a man.”
And Fisher isn’t afraid to admit he’s eyeing Britain’s biggest rivals for his new template.
“After that first game I got injured, I said to our strength and conditioning coach, ‘I want you to make me look like an Australian fast bowler.
“They all look solid. (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood, (Mitch) Starc…they all look pretty strong. I was like, ‘try to make me look like them.’ I ate a lot for the first three months. .
“Sometimes in our sport we think too much about skin folds, a lot of guys worry about being thin enough, but that was a point where my goal was to build muscle. All summer long, coaches and some players in Yorkshire said, ‘Damn, you look so big’. “
Fisher’s promotion to the Test team came after James Anderson and Stuart Broad were surprisingly undermined in the Caribbean, along with Saqib Mahmood of Lancashire, who also had a stress fracture to deal with.
The award-winning duo are back in the summer and the new leadership team of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum play their part as they reinvigorate a struggling side with nine wins in 10 games.
Going back to a winning unit in the year of the Ashes is no easy feat, but it’s something Fisher lets himself aim for.
“This is my biggest impetus because you never want to have only one cover,” he said.
“In the back of my mind I have the confidence that I know I can get back there. I have time. I’m only 25 years old. I know what I can do if I stay in shape, and I know that if I stay in shape, I can achieve what I want.
“(Australian opening) I’ve had alley sessions at David Warner where I portrayed bowling, so it’s definitely on my mind. But it’s not on my wall as a goal this summer. If that happens, it will happen.”