Broad hungry for action
Stuart Broad has reported for England duty leaner and fitter than ever – thanks to a self-sanctioned regime of spartan diet and rigorous training.
England’s 6ft 6in seamer is determined to put a run of injuries behind him as he seeks to realise his potential as one of the mainstays of a world-beating pace attack.
Broad might have permitted himself an adequate helping of turkey and stuffing over Christmas. But before then it was healthy eating all the way – followed by a strenuous work-out in Potchefstroom, South Africa – and the 25-year-old is convinced he is therefore ready to return to England colours in optimum shape.
“I’m not going to lie, after six weeks it took its toll on me – jeez, I enjoyed that first chocolate bar,” he said as he recalled the strict diet, prescribed by the ECB but diligently followed by him.
“I only drank water and tea. I don’t know how these Olympic athletes do it – I still enjoy having a beer and stuff. But it was nice to try and challenge myself in a different way.”
Broad was set for England’s first practice session today in preparation for three Tests, four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates at the start of an arduous 2012 schedule.
After having to sit out several high-profile engagements over the past 12 months through injury – the second half of the Ashes, much of the World Cup and most recently England’s one-day whitewash in India – he is determined to help himself.
Agreeing to a health-food diet which is also favoured by top-level football clubs is just one part of that.
“The ECB sorted it out ... from a company I think Man United use when they get a new signing in,” he said.
“They send the menu over. I think it was about 2,000 calories a day. It was still hearty, good meals – I wasn’t ever hungry. It gave me everything I needed. The ECB nutritionists gave me the menu and it got delivered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“There’s not often you get a chance when you’re at home so that you can watch what you eat. When you’re in hotels and eating out you can’t really tell what’s going into the food, so it was a good opportunity to be able to do that.
“I didn’t have to lose weight; I knew I was going to be working hard in the gym. But I didn’t want to be eating c**p at the same time. So I thought I’d give it a go.”
Broad believes he is reaping the benefits, and he certainly got the opportunity to test his theory on last month’s fast-bowling trip to South Africa.
“I trained really hard,” he said. “Those 10 days in Potch were as hard as any pre-season I’ve ever done. Obviously at altitude the air’s quite hard to breathe as well, so that was really good for us. The guys all look in really good shape.
“If there was ever that concern of coming back after eating a bit too much Christmas turkey, it’s certainly not been that. The boys look really good and fresh to go.”
Broad had a rollercoaster 2011, beset by injury and then poor form only to bounce back with a string of outstanding performances – most notably with a man-of-the-match contribution against India on his home ground at Trent Bridge, where he followed a swashbuckling half-century with a hat-trick.
Even so, he acknowledges there were tough lessons as well as heroics last year.
“It was a huge learning experience for me,” he continued. “I had my first really awful set of form for two months. In the Sri Lanka series, I couldn’t buy a wicket. Then I had a complete upturn and probably the best series of my career so far.
“It was something I learned from. I feel a much better player for it. I also had the high of getting the (Twenty20) captaincy.”
The stakes are high in 2012, to remain part of an England team who are top of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings and to stay fit too to lead them in defence of their World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka next autumn.
“I’ve only been able to captain two games, but 2012 is an exciting year,” he added.
“We’ve got a Twenty20 World Cup, and we’ve got little blocks of Twenty20 cricket which you can actually get something from – three games against Pakistan where you’ve got a week when you can work with the squad, whereas normally when it’s one game you get four hours and then you’re gone again.”