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How Craig McDermott went from being world champion to ‘a fat prick’

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Craig McDermott, while in conversation with Shane Watson on Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, recalled the time he went from being a “world champion to 12th man for Queensland” in two years.

A 22-year-old McDermott finished as the leading wicket-taker in Australia’s triumphant 1987 World Cup campaign, but was axed from the Test side the next year after a dip in his fitness levels.

“Probably after the 1987 World Cup, where I was very fit for those first few years, when I got the world record, I thought I’ll rest on my laurels and became a fat prick,” he said. “By the end of the 88/89 summer in Australia, I was 12th man for Queensland. So I went from being a world champion to being 12th man for Queensland, which was a hell of a wake-up call for me.

“I saw a psychologist and had a few thoughts around the way I was approaching things. It was in ’89, it was about April, just after I had been 12th man, I went for dinner at the Broncos, and that’s where I met Trevor Hendy and I went and trained with him for a couple of weeks and he not only changed my plan – how I went physically about it – but also how I thought about preparing mentally.

“Setting myself some pretty huge goals, the next winter I wasn’t picked on the Ashes – the tour of England of ’89 – and by the time the boys got back from England, I was in a different shape, I was a different athlete, I was a different person mentally and my whole career changed from there.”

It took McDermott a little over two years to be reinstated into the Test side as he was picked for the fourth and fifth Tests of the 1990/91 Ashes series. And he celebrated his return in style, returning figures of 8-91 in the last match.

“I had 35-40 wickets before Christmas in 89/90, leading into … a series where England were in Australia and I was picked for the last two Tests,” McDermott recalled. “All those types of things, really just dropped under me being fit. I always set myself a goal that AB would have to come and tell me that he is going to rest me, rather than me saying that I’m a bit tired.

“I really set myself a goal that the first spell of mine – I wanted it to be 7, 8, 9 overs if it could be and then have a spell 20 minutes before lunch or half an hour before lunch and be ready to go again after one. So that was the way I approached my bowling from thereon.”

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