The Roar
The Roar


Get our fast bowlers out of the gym and back in the game

Jackson Bird deserves to be selected for the Ashes. (AFP/William West)
28th February, 2013
1991 Reads

Paceman Jackson Bird’s breakdown should be a wake-up call to Pat Howard and his decision-makers that there’s something radically wrong within the Australian camp off the field.

Bird’s only been around for “five minutes” but has become the latest casualty of stress fractures to his back.

That means every one of Australia’s recognised fast bowlers has been sidelined in the last year and a bit, mostly for the same ailment.

The trouble starts in the gym.

The only gym Australian fast bowling legends Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller knew was team mate Jim de Courcy.

For Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, it was Jim Higgs.

There’s no way that fabulous quartet would ever accepted the rigours the current crop has to endure.

The old way modus operandi was simple. At the end of a day’s play there was no warm-down, straight into the shed and into the beers.

Once they ran out, it was shower and paint the town red, wherever they were playing.


On the other side of the coin, the current Gatorade television commercial shows Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Matt Wade, and Ryan Harris in considerable distress, gasping for air.

The non-cricket related training in the gym, including weights, has taken over big time with big repercussions.

I’m quite convinced the Australian fast bowlers are being put through their paces off the field to the detriment of their bodies that are constantly collapsing.

All Lindwall, Miller, Lillee, and Thomson had to do to be among the greatest fast bowlers the world has ever seen was to bust their gut at the nets, using just the parts of their body that are needed for bowling.

Their spare time wasn’t for the gym, it was to relax over a few beers. More accurately, a good few beers and chat with the locals, be a part of the scene. Even more accurately, it was just to be normal.

Howard and his team have a lot to answer for in their bid for the greater good.

Over-working the Australian team off the field and not giving them space to be normal has proved disastrous.

Get them back in the real world, and change the daily mix from salting them away in cotton wool to cutting them loose.


They will find their own levels of behaviour, but at least they won’t break down through exhaustion.

They will be able to play regularly, and surely that’s the name of the game.