The Road to 90mph Bowling from the Man Who Made It | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The Road to 90mph Bowling from the Man Who Made It

This is part 3 of and autobiographical training guide Steffan Jones, professional fast bowler. Can he achieve his aim of reaching 90mph through innovative training methods? For part one click here, for part 4 click here.

My main aim for the 2001 season was to bowl 90mph (145kph). I had developed a close friendship with a young Joe Tucker who also played for Somerset. We were very competitive and started competing against each other.

During the winter I spent a huge sum on turning my garage into a gym. I had a power rack, leg press, barbells, and dumbbells; the full range that I needed to build on the 2000 success. Once again I was in full control of my program even though Somerset employed their first ever strength coach: Andy Hurry. He fully trusted me and could see my programs worked. I knew he was smart; he would go on to become one of the clubs most successful coaches.

Joe and I were also competing over who could get to the lowest body fat. This was mainly due to the fact we were doing the "Body for Life" challenge. To this day I genuinely believe we both could have had a good chance of getting in the top 10. We were ripped! I was 8% body fat.

Our program was simple:

  • 2 upper body days
  • 1 lower body day
  • 2 High intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions done on alternating days.

We performed the HIIT on empty stomachs and performed weights and sprints with med ball throws on the other days.

The weight training session was based on a pyramid loading protocol with 6 reps being the lowest. We then had one back off set for a "lactic pump". However simple it looks, it worked.

I think it worked because of the diet. To lose fat we used portion control and a focus on post workout nutrition using protein shakes. It was a really simple diet that gave me the best results. I did become obsessive and wrote everything I ate down but it was what I believed was needed to help me be the fittest cricketer in the county game.

The heavy ball bowling was still a stable in my program during the off season in February and March. I commbined it with SAQ circuits (which I still use now but under a new fancy activation circuit name). That was it, nothing fancy. No Prowler pushing, strongman circuits or Olympic lifting: Just bodybuilding weights, 10kg sled sprints, HIIT, Jumps and Throws and Weighted ball bowling.

Without doubt this was the best condition I had been in to play cricket.

I won the majority of the clubs fitness tests during pre-season and was ready to bowl 90mph.

That season I took 59 wickets in championship cricket bowling 3360 balls and a massive 36 wickets in one day cricket bowling 1193 balls; the second highest tally on record in a one day campaign.

I did also bowl 90mph in the Lords final against Leicestershire CCC. My targets were achieved. 50 wickets in a season and 90mph.

Where would I go from here?

Beyond speed

What lessons did I learn from the previous winter?

  • Heavy ball bowling was still the best training method for a fast bowler.
  • Running is still the best way to get fit to bowl.
  • Fancy strongman circuits aren’t needed for a bowler.
  • Weight training was essential
  • Diet was key to staying lean and being light enough to bowl long spells over a summer.

The stats don't lie. The correlation is unbelievable.

However, this next phase in my career was not my happiest and most successful. Looking back there was a lot of contributing factors. I asked myself the question after the success of 2001; how could I improve?

My training was good at the time so the only direction I could go was with technical modifications. Brett Lee was bowling express at the time and I was desperate to copy his action. Foolishly thinking if it works for him it must work for me!

How wrong I was!

Find out what happened in the next instalment on PitchVision Academy. Click here.

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