"I have tried yoga and it doesn’t work for me. I’m 6ft 6in and it just felt awkward.” When one of the world’s best all-rounders, and captain of England’s Twenty20 team, refers to himself as maladroit, it’s logical to feign agreement. But when ShortList caught up with the 25-year-old to uncover the secrets of his training technique, ahead of the West Indies Test series, it turns out he might have a point...
Apparently you’ve missed a few training sessions recently?
During a warm up on a recent match day I had a ball hit over my shoulder. I was looking up at the sky to see the ball and as I caught it I stupidly fell over the rope and twisted my ankle. I sprained most of the ligaments in the ankle and also got a minor nick in my calf. I’ve been training lightly for a week or two, but I’m in better shape now.
What’s the most painful injury you have had?
In 2010, I was bowling during the Ashes series and somehow obtained a 4cm tear straight through one of my abs. I had to fly home after that. It was probably my most painful injury as it also hindered my breathing for a while. And I once tore a muscle just off the bone of my shoulder. That was frustrating because I couldn’t even close a car door, let alone train.
So how do you warm up to prevent further injuries?
I use a swimming pool for warming up and warming down as the water takes the pressure off your body. I’ll jog up and down while the water is mid-way to my chest, before stretching the hamstrings and hips, which are important areas to keep flexible.
You’re an all-rounder best known for bowling. Does this mean you focus more on your batting in training?
I do spend more time batting, but only because it’s lower in intensity than bowling. Batting is explosive when you hit the ball, but doesn’t cause as much wear and tear in your arms.Any exercises that help make your batting that bit more explosive?Hitting clean is all about timing. This means hand-eye co-ordination has to be worked on. We do a lot of cone work. One simple drill is to put down three cones – one outside your off-stump, one right down the middle of the wicket and one to the right of the wicket – and put a tennis ball on top of each one. At speed, step out, pick a ball up, get back, step out and put the ball down, and repeat for each one, getting quicker each time. It also improves footwork.
What other drills do you carry out to enhance footwork?
We do a lot of ladder work, whether it’s running through one at speed or dancing at the side of it. Having the mental comfort of being able to move your feet quickly can give you the edge.
How important is good nutrition?
Highly important. You have to be clever when you eat. Many athletes like pasta, but eating a big bowl of it in the evening can be dangerous. It’d be wiser to eat a few hours before doing exercise so you’re guaranteed energy that you can burn off. Healthy doesn’t mean you have to settle for bland taste either – when we come off the field, our trainer gives us protein shakes, and I’m a big cookies-and-cream fan.
Does this mean you enjoy other sugary supplements?
[Laughs] Yes actually, we’ll even have sweets brought on to the field to us when it’s a long day of outdoor training. They’re good for energy. Haribo are my weakness.
What kind of Haribo?
It depends on what mood I’m in. I’m usually a Starmix man, but on a special occasion I’ll go for Tangfastics.
How do you curb your alcohol intake on a night out?
Don’t order a pint of Guinness, instead drink a Grey Goose, lime and soda; it has a lot less carbs. And for someone not drinking alcohol, my advice is half apple juice and half water in a pint glass, because a pint of wholly apple juice would be excessive for your sugar levels.
Maximuscle, the UK and Europe’s No1 sports nutrition brand, is a proud sponsor of Stuart Broad and the ECB; maximuscle.com