Pace ace Matthew Fisher has put injury nightmare behind him

‘I feel a lot stronger now. I look more like a man rather than a boy’: Yorkshire fast bowler Matthew Fisher has bulked up in a bid to put his injury nightmare behind him and push for an Ashes place for England

  • Matthew Fisher made his England Test debut in March but got injured in April
  • He returned from a stress fracture to play Yorkshire’s final game of the summer 
  • The bowler is part of the England Lions Test team to face Sri Lanka this week 

In the space of a month, Matthew Fisher went from realising a dream to suffering a nightmare.

The Yorkshire bowler made his England Test debut in Barbados last March, memorably taking a wicket with his second ball. However, in his first match back for his county in April, he sustained a stress fracture of the back that sidelined him until the final game of the summer.

Fisher’s fledgling career has been plagued by injury problems and in the past they have left him low and reduced him to tears. 

Matthew Fisher made his Test debut for England in Barbados in March 2022 before injury woes

But this time, buoyed by having just been picked to play for his country, his spirits stayed high. He vowed to return stronger than ever and, as he began his latest rehabilitation, he had a clear instruction for Yorkshire’s strength and conditioning coach, Harry Brooker. 

‘I said to him, “I want you to make me look like an Australian faster bowler”,’ the 25-year-old reveals to Sportsmail. ‘Literally looking in a mirror, I just thought, “I don’t look as robust as some players I’ve seen”. Cummins, Hazelwood, Starc, they all seem to look solid. So I was like, “Try and make me look like them”.

‘I ate loads that first three months. I wasn’t bothered about what my skin folds (body-fat tests) were at that point. It was just about trying to get as much in as I could so you can then build the muscle. 

‘I’ve gone from 86kgs to 91kgs and my skin folds are very similar, so it’s just muscle. I feel a lot stronger now. I think I look more like a man rather than a boy.’

It is not just Fisher’s physique that changed during his time away from the middle. He also tweaked his bowling action in a bid to prevent further serious injury – and did so by studying videos of the game’s greats.

Fisher has bulked up his physique to try and make himself fit better with England’s Ashes plans

‘If you improve every single part of your game then hopefully you are giving yourself the best chance to not get injured,’ he says. ‘In the first two weeks after my injury, I looked at so many different actions of some of the best bowlers to have ever bowled and just thought, “How do I want mine to look?”. Hadlee, Gough, Rabada, Steyn, Brett Lee. I’ve got so many videos or stills on my phone from around that time.

‘I did it myself because you don’t want to have to go through a stress fracture again, you want to make your action safer. I want mine to look more like Anrich Nortje. Not because he’s rapid, but it’s his back foot contact that I’ve tried to model myself on.’

Fisher identified that his back foot was landing side-on rather than straight, which caused his feet to cross over and he was falling over and straining the left side of his back. Intriguingly, he believes it was his desire to swing the ball like his idol that brought on the flaw in his action.

Fisher said he ended up in a ‘worse position’ because he was trying to copy Jimmy Anderson

‘Because I love Jimmy Anderson, I was so obsessed about getting side-on to be able to swing it out a bit more that it turned me round and that’s where my feet cross over came from,’ he explains. ‘It was actually me trying to model myself too much on Jimmy that I thought got me in a worse position.’

Fisher has looked up to Anderson since he was a child, but it was the controversial decision to drop the record-breaking veteran and Stuart Broad from last year’s West Indies tour that saw him win his first England call-up.

Even still, his debut came as a shock as he was drafted in on the morning of the second Test after Craig Overton fell ill. But taking the new ball on the second day, Fisher had John Campbell caught behind with just his second delivery.

‘The Test was brilliant and a dream come true,’ he says. ‘That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, to play Test cricket for England, so I felt like I really did take it all in and enjoyed it. I can remember everything about it. I don’t watch my wicket back because I can see it in my head.

Fisher said he doesn’t see his wicket back against West Indies ‘because I can see it in my head’

‘To then come back and get the stress fracture, it was annoying, but I have been more down about other injuries before. The debut actually spurred me on and I thought, “I want to get back there again”. That is my biggest driving force because you never want to have just one cap.’

Watching England’s ‘Bazball’ revolution from afar, Fisher saw Anderson, Broad and Matty Potts selected as the seamers at the start of last summer, before Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood also returned to the fold. Olly Stone is also on the upcoming Test tour of New Zealand and Jofra Archer is now nearing a comeback ahead of this summer’s Ashes.

But Fisher, who took six wickets in his first match back for Yorkshire in September, remains in the selectors’ thoughts having been awarded a pace bowling development contract in October. He also toured the UAE with the England Lions in November and is now with them again in Sri Lanka, where the play their first match on Wednesday.

Yorkshire’s Fisher returned for the last of their matches in September after a stress fracture

‘Getting the fast bowling contract was a big confidence boost after being injured,’ he adds. ‘They obviously wanted to stick with me and back me.

‘If there are any injuries to the England bowlers that are in New Zealand, I’d like to think that I’d be in a conversation to be going there. There’s been indoor sessions where I am visualising bowling at David Warner, so the Ashes are definitely on my mind.

‘But if that happens, it happens. I can’t really control where I am in the pecking order, so for me it’s just about bowling well for Yorkshire. I know how fast it can happen. It happened last winter, so hopefully I’ll get another chance at some point. I have got the confidence that I know I can get back there.’

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