Johnson gives his everything when he comes onto bowl. Bowl after bowl, he bends his back and generates enough pace to scare the batsmen. In an era dominated by the batsmen, he has stood out to be a role model for all the young pace bowlers.
Incident that gave him clarity:-
Johnson didn’t become the extraordinary bowler he was at his peak overnight. It took years of practice for him to perfect his bowling skills. He recalled his playing days from when he was young. He opens up about the incident that changed his mind set and motivated him to work harder.
Recalling the incident he said,” In the first few years of my professional career, I was lazy. When I was playing for Queensland, I remember watching Matthew Hayden, we were in a net session which went on for three hours. After that, while I was stretching, I saw Hayden facing the bowling machine again”.
“He just kept hitting ball after ball. I was like what is he doing? We’ve just had a massive training session, why is he hitting more balls? It’s didn’t make sense to me. Then it clicked, that’s why he’s playing for Australia, he’s doing extra work, extra running. That opened my eyes and realised If I want to play for Australia, I have to do the extra stuff”.
It is evident from the words of the legendary fast bowler that hard work is something that is must. The hours of practice and the efforts these players put behind the curtains are massive. There’s no other mantra to become a good bowler other than hard work and determination.
Why Indian bowlers are not quick in their primes:-
On asking about Indian fast bowlers, he explained that Indian fast bowlers don’t have the conditions to in their favour. The conditions in India are suited to spinners and hence the fast bowlers have to rely on variations rather than pace to escape for the vengeance of the batsman. That’s why Indian pacers are no longer quick as they reach their prime.
He explained, “Over the last four years, there’s been a huge improvement in the physique of Indian fast bowlers. One of the things that lets Indian fast bowlers down is playing on docile wickets. Wickets should be like the Gabba and the Waca”.
“Ishant Sharma is a good example. When he entered the scene, he was bowling at 150 km/hr. He just couldn’t keep it up because he was bowling on flat wickets day in day out. It plays with your mind and body as well. You can’t keep bending your back every day on these kinds of wickets”.
Fitness is something that needs to be stressed upon:-
Johnson stresses a lot on the fitness of a fast bowler. A fast bowler must be fit to elongate his career and keep himself injury-free. Johnson has come a long way from his early playing days, when he joined the MRF pace academy, at the age of 19. During that time, his mentor in the pace academy was Dennis Lillee.
Cricket has changed a lot and a bowler needs to be at his best all the time. Earlier the training regimes were just different types of running. But now the players have the luxury of different types of regimes. He explained that bowlers need strong lower body to generate good amount of pace.
He said, “Fitness has changed a lot. Earlier the running programmes were all the same and we all did the same thing. As a fast bowler one needs to be strong in the core and the glutes – doing a lot of single leg workouts is essential”.
Hours in gym won’t help:-
He recently has launched an app for the fast bowlers named Bowlfit. The app has over 300 videos of exercises that can help bowlers to with their fitness regimes. He also emphasized the fact that the bowlers should not get carried away and clock hours in the gym.
He said, “You can’t just go to the gym and try and get very big. There’s no point if you get too big in the upper body, a fast bowler loses his flexibility. It’s all about core and lower body strength. Playing T20, what’s the point of running 5-10 kms?”
It was a good knowledge shared by the legend himself and would be very helpful for youngsters who are aspiring to be a pace bowler. These tips should be taken seriously and should be followed meticulously.