Sports Active: THE ROUTINE - Ed Smith, Kent and England Batsman
Polk, Interview Jamie, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Ed Smith, 26, scored a half-century on his England Test debut, against South Africa last summer. After a dip in form, the Kent batsman was not selected for this winter's tours to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. He is instead touring India with the England A team. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Cambridge University, where he gained a double first in history and became the youngest player to make a century on his University debut. He was awarded his cap by Kent in 2001 and lives in Wye, East Kent.
How do you get your body into shape for the county cricket season?
Most of the physical conditioning work is done during the off- season, when my body has more time to recover from the gym work. I use heavy weights about three times a week and spend time jogging and on the rowing machine, to give myself a good aerobic workout. As tough as it is physically, I really believe that experiencing a reasonable level of pain on a regular basis is good for your mental discipline.
How does your routine change once the season starts?
On the county circuit we play five days a week, so there isn't much time for anything else, although we might do a little sprint training or some light weights on days off. Religiously, I spend half an hour stretching and doing abdominal core-stability work every day, either with a Swiss ball or on my yoga mat. If I don't loosen up, I'm liable to get injured.
Apart from the physical conditioning, how tough does a batsman need to be mentally?
It's certainly true that cricket is played as much in the head as the body. Psychologically, batting is a peculiarly difficult discipline. The finality of "one mistake and you're out" is a difficult thing to live with on a daily basis. To make it, you need the basic skill levels, but you also need to thrive on pressure; it's a high-intensity mental examination. Playing against the South Africans last summer, I found the extra scrutiny my technique was put under, and the extra mental strength required, very moreish. …