First of all we hope your shoulder improves. We suppose it underlines how being involved in all three forms of the game is so demanding…
Well, yes it is, but then that’s why we spend a lot of time doing recovery sessions and working in the gym to make sure physically we are able to deal with that. There’s not many of us that do play in all three forms, Paul Collingwood, Jimmy Anderson and Kevin Pietersen when he’s fit obviously, so it makes it tough in a way, but that’s where little breaks like the one we’ve just had are so crucial to give the body a bit of rest. You’re always getting little niggles as my shoulder problem proves!
We read Shane Warne saying that trying to be an all-rounder would ruin you…
Well, heaven knows he’s done enough to be entitled to an opinion, but personally I’ve set my goals to be constantly improving, and my batting is one area where I can try to do that. I know that batting at seven in Test cricket would come with a huge added pressure of expecting extra runs, and I see myself as a good number eight at the moment, but it’s a challenge to continue to improve. If that leads to the opportunity to go in at number seven for England then I’ll jump at it. That’s up to the hierarchy. I don’t see it ruining me because it won’t happen unless I show I’m ready for it
How do you feel about the Twenty20 games?
I think it’s a good way to begin the tour, and of course there are One Day Internationals before the Test series, so there’s time to acclimatise and be ready. We know how good a team South Africa are, but we’ve got the confidence booster of having beaten them in the Champions Trophy. Also, I think we know what to expect with the crowds and the pitches, and even the balance of their team because they named it a couple of weeks ago, so we’re very well prepared. I think if we play to the best of our ability we stand a great chance.
Getting Kevin Pietersen back for this series will be a big boost…
It will, he’s a world class player, our best batsman, and it will be exciting to have him back. He had a fantastic one day tour of South Africa when he last went over, although he did suffer a bit of abuse, and he’ll be revved up to do very well. That can only be good for the team.
Tell us about your book that came out last week…
It’s a celebration of the Ashes really, my thoughts and my feelings about what was quite an emotional roller coaster. I hope it’s a bit of an insight into the changing world that happened during that six weeks. I’m very proud of it, I thoroughly enjoyed doing it because it gave me a chance to reflect every night on what had actually happened and I hope people enjoy reading it.
Did it help to get your thoughts in order at the end of each day, then?
Yes, it did. I think you have to have moments as a player when you unwind and reflect. That’s important. Writing it all down every night helped me with that, and let me get my mind right for the next day’s action.
There’s never much time, is there. It seems to be non-stop cricket these days…
Who’s complaining? We actually had nearly three weeks off after the Champions Trophy and that was a good little break to get refreshed.
So how did you spend it?
I went on holiday, I went to Miami and then to Toronto for two weeks, which was a brilliant place to chill out away from the cricketing environment
Wow, Toronto? What was the best thing you saw there?
My girlfriend, actually! She’s working there at the moment so it was great to catch up and spend some relaxed time. I went to see Niagara falls as well, one of the best places I’ve ever been to, just beautiful.
Are you a good tourist, after all your job takes you round the world?
It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, cricket tours tend to be so hectic that you don’t get much time, but I to like to see as much as I can when we’re away. To be honest, though, we usually end up playing golf on a day off. I’m lucky that at my age I haven’t got the family restrictions that can make being away quite stressful. I just go and enjoy myself.
Where’s the best place you’ve played so far?
Oh, it would have to be the West Indies. As bowlers we have to do a lot of recovery work, ice baths and stuff, and it’s very nice being able to swim in the sea mornings and evenings, pretty much on your doorstop. I think it’s the one place where the ice bath is a luxury rather than a necessary hell!
Yeah, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to see the world, it’s something I absolutely love.
Your sister Gemma has become the England team’s analyst. How does that work out? With most people’s sisters they’d be arguing all day!
She’s really professional, actually, she doesn’t treat me any different to any of the other boys. She’s very good at her job, it just so happens we’ve ended up on the same path. She did a performance analysis degree and her dissertation was actually on rugby league, but then it just so happened a job came up at the ECB and she went for it. I’m really pleased it’s worked out so well for her, and she actually comes up with some really valuable stuff for all the boys. Don’t tell her I said so but I’m quite proud of what she does!
*Bowled Over : An Ashes Celebration by Stuart Broad is published by Hodder & Stoughton
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