Matthew Fisher believes himself and his England Lions team-mates preparing to train in the United Arab Emirates later this month must have one eye on winning selection for the senior Test tour to India at the start of next year.
Yorkshire fast bowling star Fisher is one of 21 players heading out to Abu Dhabi for a three-week red-ball focussed training camp between November 16 and December 7.
He is one of only six players who tour with senior international experience under their belt; fellow fast bowlers Brydon Carse, Matthew Potts and Josh Tongue amongst them.
But the soon to be 26-year-old, a senior member of the squad as a result of that previous statistic, believes making the step up to the top level pretty quickly should be something all the players are thinking about.
“It’s not in the forefront of my mind,” said Fisher, who celebrates his birthday next Thursday. “But I do feel as though you have to have it as a goal.
“If it’s not a goal, you won’t get the most out of your winter.
“It’s a fine balance. You need to have it as a goal, but it can’t be at the forefront of your mind because you might try too hard as a result.
“You just need to do the right things, and having that in the back of your mind gives you a real purpose.
“You have to try and get yourself into a position where if something does happen, you’re the player they’re talking about. That’s all you can control.
“We all know how fast things can happen in sport. You have to be performing at the right time and you never know.”
Fisher was recently announced as having retained his development contract with England, one which he had last year.
Fellow fast bowlers Saqib Mahmood and John Turner have been handed the same deals, which “support the development of high-potential talent”, according to the ECB.
Fisher is heading into this winter on the back of a productive summer in Yorkshire colours.
He played nine matches in the LV= Insurance County Championship, taking 28 wickets with a best of 5-30 against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in June.
Both appearances and wickets wise, it was the best year of a career which has oozed promise ever since he made his county debut as a 15-year-old but is now starting to produce consistent performances.
“I’m happy they’re (England management) standing by me,” continued Fisher.
“A lot of people may see me get a few injuries and question it, but there’s much more to it than that.
“I went to Australia with the Lions at the back end of 2021, came back and was told I was the best bowler on that trip. Then I went to the West Indies on the full Test tour a couple of months later and made my debut at Barbados.
“I thought I did well in that game. It was a fairly placid wicket, and I felt like I was really consistent without taking loads of wickets.
“I then came back and bowled well in the first game of the (2022) summer for Yorkshire at Bristol but got my back stress fracture.
“I’d been building some good momentum, and without that injury I felt like I had a good chance of playing in the summer for England.
“After my recovery, I then went away last winter and got a five-for in Sri Lanka for the Lions, which is no mean feat for a fast bowler in those conditions.
“When I came back to Yorkshire after that for this season, I played more cricket in a season than I ever have and think I bowled alright without being good or great.
“But it’s a big tick in the box for me to have played a good number of games and to have taken a good number of wickets.
“I feel like as the season went on the intensity of each spell went up, and you can see that in the wickets I took. Hopefully I can take that forward into this winter and start next season with real impetus and get Yorkshire off to a good start.”
Fisher continued: “As I say, I’m really happy they’ve shown faith in me.
“They may see me as the future, but that’s down to me now. They’ve shown the faith, so now I have to repay it and try to stamp my authority on things with performances.”
One thing highly likely is that Fisher will tour India early next year. Of course, he may yet break into the Test squad. But, if not, he will be going to the sub-continent on a month-long Lions tour from early January.
He said: “What has been communicated to me by Neil Killeen (England fast bowling coach) is that, going to India after Christmas, he wants me to lead that attack, to help implement what’s been happening above and to try and take the responsibility of having some really good young bowlers alongside me.
“As I’m getting older, there’s more responsibility and leadership duties I’ll have to take on both with the Lions and Yorkshire, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Fisher is relishing the chance for time on task in the UAE.
“These training camps are good,” he added.
“I feel like when you go on these trips there are a lot of players on different paths, which is quite nice. It’s not all out competitive.
“Look at me last year. I played the last game of the season and went away still coming back from my stress fracture. I was still trying to get my workloads up on grass, whereas others were further down the line and the Test tour to Pakistan was realistic.
“I think everyone gets a lot out of it, and I think the coaches and selectors do too.
“I worked on a few things last winter ahead of going to Sri Lanka, trying to get wickets in conditions which may not be ideal for seamers – bouncers, using the new ball well, those type of things.
“And there’s a lot of satisfaction when you work on something and they bring results like they did.
“It will be similar ahead of India. I’ve played out there a bit before, but not a red ball game. It will be about drawing on my bit of experience there and that of the coaches to try and work out a method to get wickets.”