England seamer Matthew Fisher has revealed how he looked to Australia for inspiration as he rebuilt a more muscular body during his latest 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 of the lower back in his first county game of the summer.
That led to yet another injury lay-off for a 25-year-old who has seen more than his share of treatment tables over the years, but he worked his way back to make his comeback in the final game of the season.
Fisher is heading to Sri Lanka ✈
Congratulations to Matt Fisher who has been called up to The England Lions squad for their upcoming tour in February 🙌
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) January 3, 2023
He will step things up when he heads to Sri Lanka with England Lions later this week, where he will debut a newly bulked up physique – a change he sought in partial response to his fitness issues.
“Looking in a mirror I just thought ‘I don’t look as robust as some players I’ve seen this winter and maybe that’s something to look at’,” he said.
“It’s not about just putting on weight, I wanted to put on muscle that’s going to help me be stronger…to be able to withstand the bowling action. I’ve gone from 86 kilos to 91 but my skin folds are very similar, so it’s muscle. I feel a lot stronger now. I think I look more like a man rather than a boy.”
And Fisher is not afraid to admit that he set his sights on England’s biggest rivals for his new template.
“After that first game when I got injured, I basically said to our strength and conditioning coach ‘I want you to make me look like an Australian fast bowler’,” he recalled.
“They all seem to look solid. (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood, (Mitch) Starc…they all look pretty strong. So I was like: ‘try and make me look like them’. I ate loads that first three months. It’s good for your back to eat loads because it’s good for healing.
“Sometimes in our sport we think too much about skin folds, a lot of lads get anxiety about being slim enough, but it was a point where my goal was to put muscle on. All throughout the summer, the coaches at Yorkshire and some of the players were like ‘bloody hell, you look massive’.”
Fisher’s promotion to the Test team alongside Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood – who has also had a stress fracture to contend with – came after James Anderson and Stuart Broad were surprisingly axed in the Caribbean.
The decorated duo returned in the summer, playing their part as the new leadership team of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum revitalised a struggling side to the tune of nine wins in 10 matches.
Breaking back in to a winning unit during an Ashes year is no easy feat, but it is one Fisher allows himself to aim for.
“That is my biggest driving force because you never want to have just one cap,” he said.
“In the back of my mind, I have got the confidence that I know I can get back there. I’ve got time. I’m only just 25. If I stay fit, I know what I can do and I know I’ll achieve what I want if I do stay fit.
“There’s been indoor sessions where I am visualising bowling at (Australia opener) David Warner, so it’s definitely in my mind. But in terms of it being a goal of mine this summer, it’s not like on my wall or anything. If that happens, it happens.”