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Fast-bowling physio shows how it's done

But if you are a fast bowler and a qualified physiotherapist, the risk of suffering major injuries is reduced drastically. That is exactly what Andy McKay, the fastest bowler in New Zealand's national team at the moment, has managed. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Aug 16, 2010 23:50 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Besides learning the art of bowling, a fast bowler also has to discover how to manage his body.

In modern-day cricket, if a fast bowler is unable to manage his injuries, it's very unlikely that he will succeed at the highest level.

But if you are a fast bowler and a qualified physiotherapist, the risk of suffering major injuries is reduced drastically. That is exactly what Andy McKay, the fastest bowler in New Zealand's national team at the moment, has managed.

McKay, who has impressed with his speed, has been a qualified physio since he began playing first-class cricket.

"Early on in my cricket career, I was working full time as physio in my winter season and playing cricket in the summer," McKay, 30, said on Monday. "But I am glad to say I haven't done any physio work for a year now. I used to do private practice in Auckland and then in Wellington but I haven't done any physio work since September last year."

That would really be helping him to keep his body in shape, isn't it?

"Yes and no," McKay said with a grin. "I quite like to have the old dumb fast bowler mentality of if it hurts, you just try and carry on. If I get a niggle I know if it is a good pain or a bad pain. Being a physio gives me an advantage to know what is good pain and what is bad pain."

Even though McKay has been a cricketer since the age of four, it took him a long time to breaking into the Black Caps squad.

But now that Shane Bond has retired, McKay is being considered as the fastest bowler in New Zealand.

What turned the tide for him was to shift his base from Auckland to Wellington.

"I am a bit of a late bloomer," McKay admitted. "I played seven to eight years of first-class cricket.

“I put it down to my move to Wellington, had a good year with them, and was able to get a lot of consistent cricket at first-class level. I bowled very well with Dan Vettori, the captain of the side. He was happy with my pace. I got a call for the Bangladesh series. And managed to do quite well there."

Now that McKay has had almost half a dozen one-day caps to his name, he is leaving no stone unturned in order to stake a claim for a Test spot. And in his endeavour, he is seeking help from none other than the great Richard Hadlee.

"I have taken on Hadlee as a mentor. He gives me some feedback and I go to him with some ideas so I am able to contact him whenever I like," McKay said. "He gives me some very thorough feedback on what he thinks I must do. I always keep in touch through phone calls or e-mails."