Jos Buttler is the most famous cricket player in the world today. While England fans cheered Sir Alastair Cook’s drive and admired Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad’s unstoppable potential, Jos Buttler was making a name for himself as one of the first modern “swashbucklers” in the game.
Even though Jos Buttler has only played in 57 Test matches, he is widely considered to be one of the best cue ball batsmen in cricket. He is especially good at the one-day versions of the game, where hitting hard and moving quickly are important. He is England’s second-most played Twenty20 player and second-highest run scorer. As a wicketkeeper, he holds the England record for expulsions in both the One Day International (221) and the T20 (53). He was also a key member of the England team that won the 2019 Cricket World Cup. He finished the run-out in the Super Over that gave England the win over New Zealand in what might have been the closest sporting match in history.
So, it’s safe to say that Jos Buttler knows a thing or two about high-level sports performance. On the eve of this year’s The Hundred Championship, the new captain of the English national cricket team and captain of the Manchester Originals sat down with GQ via Zoom to talk about what it takes (physically and mentally) for a cricket player to reach the highest level. He talked about how batting, bowling, and what has made the game more modern.
Do you think the break gives the players a chance to get ready for the games that are coming up?
“Of course. I think it’s clear that we haven’t played as well as we could have against India and South Africa this summer, but that’s okay. We know where we want to go and how to get there; we just haven’t been able to play as consistently as we would have liked.
“I think the T tournament is a great place for everyone to go right away. Every match is shown on TV and played in front of full stadiums, making it feel like international cricket and all the pressure that comes with it. The Hundred’s style calls for positive, attacking, and fun-to-watch cricket, which is exactly how we want to play. Just before the World Cup is a great time for everyone on the team and those who aren’t on the team yet to show why they should be. equipment”.
Now, cricket players have to be fitter than ever because their schedules are so busy, right?
“I really think that cricket has changed a lot in the last ten or fifteen years. The level of professionalism has gone up because people have full-time, 12-month contracts, especially in County Cricket. There is winter training, and getting in shape is an important part of it. In the past, contracts were for six months, after which you left and worked somewhere else for six months.
“Cricket has become more scientific. You can see how far people run in a match, how many sprints they do, and how hard they have to work. Some people may have been surprised by how strong the game is now. In a test match, for example, the distance that Stuart Broad or Jimmy Anderson run is very telling; it shows that they must be very good athletes.
“Yes, cricket is an extremely social sport. We hang out a lot in the locker room or on tour after games. As you say, it’s not just about having a drink — you can drink whatever you want — but about spending time together. We play on a very different team. Some players don’t drink at all, but everyone has a great time telling stories and laughing together.
“In fact, you can learn a lot about the game on those stages. Listening to players talk about their thoughts on the game, like why they do something against a certain bowler or how they play a certain pitch, is a great way to have great cricket conversations. That part of the game where people play together is very important.”
What kind of plan do your diet and workouts have? Is the plan set in stone, or can it be changed?
“I think things could be different. Recovery is obviously a very important part of professional sports. Get the right fuel after the game, get a massage, or use tools like a leg massager. If I have a few days before a game, I like to go to the gym and work on my strength. I practice cricket the day before a game, and then I like to do a sprint session.”
Are there different ways for different types of players to train their bodies?
“Everyone has his or her own plan. The easiest thing for me to do is talk about England. You sit down with your strength and conditioning coach and your nutritionist, and your workout program in the gym is based on what you do on the pitch. As a batsman and wicketkeeper, I do a lot of things that require me to jump and move quickly, like squats and jumping, both sideways and up and down.
“There are a lot of rotational activities in batting. Cricket is quite a rotational game, especially when you think about The Hundred and power hitting, so there are a lot of cable rotations, medium ball bowling, and other things like that in the ones where you try to build speed and power to hit the ball as far as you can.
“In terms of running, hitting involves a lot of sprinting and spinning. Bowlers are different, that’s clear. They need to work on making races longer and giving more time between them.
To some people, cricket seems inactive, but it is actually a HIIT workout
“Yes, that’s it. The best way for a cricket player to get ready for a game is to do something like walk around the field and then sprint every 45 seconds to a minute. In a test match, an outfielder might only have to sprint once every 10 minutes, but it’s all about getting your body ready to do it. Keeping people from getting hurt is a very important part of the game. The more you can make yourself available for games and play at your best when you do, the better for your team you will be.
“It’s a unique game. For a game that lasts this long, all of the activities are pretty fast-paced and involve power hitting or sprinting. Cricket does involve touch, and the mental side of the game is very important. Because of this, the better shape you are in, the better decisions you will make mentally as well, so you can play for longer.
Is there a way to train specifically for mental ability?
“I think it is the most important part of the game. In cricket, the top two centimeters are the most important, which is probably why some people think the mental side is more important than the physical side. Without a doubt, I would say that they go well together.”
“We think that if you want to get better at cricket, all you have to do is hit more balls in the nets. But when it comes to your mind, the question is: How aware are you when you hit? Do you work the same way every day? Do you work on ease of use and flow? We talk a lot about the area because we are professional athletes. But do you know how to get there, or did you just happen to be there? Working on that part of the game seems just as, if not more, important to me as working on other parts.
The mental preparation of batsmen and bowlers must be very different
“I think it’s very different. In England, there is always a sports psychologist who some people go to more often than others. As a hitter, I try to get to a point where I don’t have to think about what I’m doing. If someone throws the ball, your conscious mind doesn’t have time to figure out what’s going on, make a decision, and hit the ball where you want to hit it. It’s more about trying to get into your subconscious and having confidence in yourself and your game. The most important thing is to have a routine while the bowler is running and to be very clear in your mind when the player lets go of the ball.
Are there certain foods you need to eat at certain times to help you get better?
“After games, it’s important to have a protein shake right away, followed by a really good, well-balanced meal. I think timing is important when it comes to food, especially after a T20 or 100 match with a lot of action.
Could you tell us from a physical point of view what a match day is like?
“We usually try to get a good night’s sleep if the game starts in the afternoon. I like an omelet, some toast, and maybe some fruit and yoghurt for breakfast.”
“I like to do a warm-up workout in the gym four to six hours before the match. It’s a very short and precise session: basically squats with a jump and lunges with a twist to mimic what I’ll be doing in the game, layering a strength-based activity and an explosive one as a workout.
“I like to stretch. As I get older, I find that stretching helps me a lot. After that, it’s time for lunch, and then I’ll probably try to get another hour or so of sleep before the game.
“I’ll get my mind ready, make sure I know who I’m playing against, picture the game and what could happen, and then I’ll go to the game.”
Article originally published in GQ UK