'I don't want to be a one-cap wonder': Fisher wants to help England revive their Test fortunes

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It took Matthew Fisher just two balls to announce his arrival in international cricket.

The Yorkshire seamer was not even supposed to play in England’s second Test against West Indies, only being told he was to replace the unwell Craig Overton 80 minutes before the start in Barbados.

But there he was at the iconic Kensington Oval, being tossed the new ball at the Joel Garner End on the second evening and, after John Campbell drove his first delivery for four, he had him caught behind next up to spark pandemonium on the pitch.

England seamer Matthew Fisher celebrates his first test wicket, the dismissal of John Campbell

England seamer Matthew Fisher celebrates his first test wicket, the dismissal of John Campbell

‘It was pretty surreal,’ reflects Fisher a fortnight on, having swapped the Caribbean sun for snow in Yorkshire. ‘I quite like a plan and a structure and when chaos is brought upon you, I am not as comfortable with it.

‘So it was all a bit of a rollercoaster and I felt like in my first spell, I didn’t know what my arms and legs were doing. It was a mixture of nerves and excitement.

‘But to get that first wicket felt amazing. I knew where my mum and family were in the stands so I was palming everyone off to run towards them. It was a special moment for them and for me.’

Amid those frenzied celebrations, Fisher still found time to poignantly point to the sky – a tribute to his later father Phil, who died of bowel cancer when the York-born bowler was only 14.

Barbados, he says, was his dad’s favourite place, having twice taken his family there on tour with their local cricket club, Sheriff Hutton Bridge.

Campbell was caught behind off Fisher's second delivery to spark pandemonium on the pitch

Campbell was caught behind off Fisher’s second delivery to spark pandemonium on the pitch

‘I never thought, ‘If I get my first wicket, this is how I will celebrate’, it was just instinct,’ admits the 24-year-old.

‘I’ve always said I have more connection with him at cricket so getting that first one, all the hard work that he put in with me back at the club, it was all worth it in that moment.

‘My brother Mark said it was written in the stars for me to make my debut at Barbados and he was right. I wasn’t in the XI and then I got picked. I will always remember Barbados as one of my fondest places now as well.’

When Fisher was presented with his cap by Joe Root on the morning of the match, the England captain referenced his father in passing, saying: ‘I know how proud your family are – those that are with us and those that aren’t’. It was a moment he had specially prepared for.

‘When I was on the Lions tour in Australia, performance director Mo Bobat talked about preparing now for your debut so when it comes it is easier,’ explains Fisher.

‘So I have been chatting to a psychologist at the ECB about getting your cap. She asked if I would be able to curb my emotion if someone was presenting and mentioned my dad.

‘I said if someone went in depth about it, then I probably would cry, but the way Rooty did it, acknowledging it without going into detail, was perfect.

Joe Root referenced Fisher's father in passing when presenting the bowler with his cap

Joe Root referenced Fisher’s father in passing when presenting the bowler with his cap

‘I don’t think there is anyone I’d rather it have been than Joe Root because he’s probably going to be England’s best ever batsman. If I ever have kids of grandkids, no matter whether they’ve seen Root play or not, they are going to know the name.’

Fisher is such a fan of his fellow Yorkshireman that he could not resist joining in with supporters’ cries of ‘Rooooot’ from the players’ balcony during his mammoth first-innings knock of 153. 

Later on in the match, though, it was his name being chanted by the Barmy Army, who have already written a song in his honour, and he was clapping along with them while fielding at fine leg.

‘I found myself on the balcony just singing the Barmy Army songs, they are all catchy tunes,’ grins Fisher, before bursting into a rendition of fellow debutant Saqib Mahmood’s new ditty, to the tune of The Nolans’ I’m in the Mood for Dancing.

‘You’ve always got to try and be yourself and I’ve always loved watching Test cricket and loved watching England. I was with the Barmy Army in Australia in 2013-14 and knew all of the songs.

Fisher was told he was replacing the unwell Craig Overton just 80 minutes before the start

Fisher was told he was replacing the unwell Craig Overton just 80 minutes before the start

‘I’ll always remember that evening when I got my wicket and I was down there at fine leg and they were so loud, it was ridiculous.

‘When I opened the bowling in the second innings, I asked Ben Stokes at mid-off, ‘Is that my song?’ He could hear the lyrics really well. It was amazing.

‘I said to myself before the series, ‘You’ve just go to enjoy it, you never know whether you’re going to play another Test or not’ and that is what I tried to do.’

Fisher did not get the chance to play another Test in the West Indies having been replaced by Overton for the decider in Grenada, which England lost by 10 wickets to slump to a 1-0 series defeat. However, he is determined he will not be a one-cap wonder.

‘I don’t just want to play once for England, I want to play for the next however many years my career is,’ insists Fisher, who took a respectable one for 71 from 27 overs on the dead Barbados pitch.

Fisher could not resist joining in with supporters’ cries of ‘Rooooot’ from the players’ balcony

Fisher could not resist joining in with supporters’ cries of ‘Rooooot’ from the players’ balcony

‘I’ve got time on my side. I’ve played a Test at 24, which is still quite young. If you think about your career, you can be at the top until you’re 35.

‘Even if I don’t play another Test for 12 months, it’s about improving and becoming a more complete bowler so the next time you come in, you can stay in.

‘If I can do that by 26 when you’re coming into the prime of your career, hopefully that stands you in good stead of playing consistently for a period of time. I just want to fulfil what my potential is and get the most of myself.

‘I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give. I was fairly content with how I bowled in Barbados but I feel like I have more weapons to show people.

‘Hopefully I can do that in the county games for Yorkshire and then, you never know, if you have a good start, maybe you’ll be around it in the summer.

‘The most important thing for me now is to be consistent and taking wickets in county cricket. If I come back and bowl like a drain for Yorkshire, I’m not going to get picked again.’

The Yorkshire bowler wants to help captain Joe Root revive England's Test fortunes

The Yorkshire bowler wants to help captain Joe Root revive England’s Test fortunes

To that end, Fisher appears to have the perfect man to help fulfil his ambitions at Yorkshire in new boss Ottis Gibson, who had two successful spells as England’s bowling coach. But he also wants to pay credit to those coaches that left the club over the winter in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

‘I am thankful and grateful to everyone at Yorkshire who has helped me,’ says Fisher, who has been tipped to one day captain the county by Darren Gough, the club’s interim managing director.

‘The amount of time they put in with me, it would have been nice to have come back and shared my experience with them. Unfortunately, they are not there anymore, but I am also really looking forward to working with Ottis.

‘He has tweaked a few things with some of the Yorkshire bowlers already which they feel has made a big difference.

‘I am not stubborn. I will say to him, ‘Watch me bowl and let me know what you think’. I want him to spot something different so I can improve my game. I can’t wait to chat bowling with him because I’m a bit of a badger.’

Fisher appears to have the perfect man to help fulfil his ambitions at Yorkshire in Ottis Gibson

Fisher appears to have the perfect man to help fulfil his ambitions at Yorkshire in Ottis Gibson

While Gibson has been tasked with turning around the fortunes of Yorkshire, England will also have a new coach at the helm by the time they play New Zealand in June.

Whether they will still have the same captain is now the subject of intense debate, but Fisher is adamant Root should be given the chance to take the team forward.

‘He leads by example and has all the respect of the dressing room,’ he adds. ‘I actually feel sorry for him a little bit because individually he has performed over the time he’s been captain and potentially the team hasn’t backed up his performances.

‘As players, we have that responsibility to win games otherwise you are going to be under pressure. You are not playing for your local club on a Saturday, where a loss gets brushed under the carpet. I know we need to get results.

The Barmy Army have already written a song in his honour after his debut in the Caribbean

The Barmy Army have already written a song in his honour after his debut in the Caribbean

‘Hopefully the loss in Grenada can make us a better team and more resilient in the long run.

‘The ambition is always to be the No1 Test team in the world and I know that’s Rooty’s as well. If he can come back from the defeats and lead that team back to No1, and I think he can, it will show the resilience he has as a person.

‘Everyone is fighting to try and help him. No one in the group likes seeing what’s been said about him. Hopefully he’ll get less stick in the year to come because of results.’ 

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