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.
Visiting England as a 20-year-old quick in 1985, he quickly established his reputation with 30 wickets in six Tests.
He went on to be named @WisdenAlmanack Cricketer of the Year the following spring.
Happy Birthday, Craig McDermott!https://t.co/SvRGdJ1nTY
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) April 14, 2020
“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.”