Yorkshire CCC star Matty Fisher aiming high but with feet on the ground
It is 20 months since Fisher made his one Test appearance against the West Indies in Barbados, an achievement sandwiched between various injuries - most recently and seriously, a back stress fracture shortly after his return from that Caribbean tour.
Now, as he prepares to take the next step towards rescaling those heights, having been chosen as the county’s sole representative on a three-week England Lions training camp in the UAE that starts next Thursday, Fisher just wants a clear run at things to see how far he might go in the game.
“It’s the one burning desire in my body to try and get back there because one Test doesn’t sit well in my head,” he said.
“I’d like to get a lot more in if I can and just to feel like whatever my best is - whether it’s 10 Tests, 15 Tests, 50 Tests, or just the one Test I’ve played - that I gave myself the best opportunity.
“If I do that and it (more Test cricket) doesn’t happen, then I wasn’t good enough or it wasn’t meant to be. But, if I do get another chance, then I want to take it and stay in the side.”
Fisher, who turned 26 on Thursday, had real momentum when he made his debut. There was the sense of a man and a career on the rise and, with England keen to cast an eye over young talent, he grabbed his chance with both hands, memorably taking a wicket with his second ball – John Campbell caught behind by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
In truth, England had been keeping tabs on Fisher for a while, even as hamstring strains, side strains, broken thumbs, dislocated shoulders, you name it, stalled the progress of a man who made his Yorkshire debut aged 15.
Always a wicket-taker and someone capable of match-winning spells, Fisher showed tremendous strength of character to reach the top and was starting to fly when injury struck.
“I talk about having that momentum,” he said. “I made my debut, I was coming off that Test tour and it was like, ‘I’ve had a taste of it, I’ve loved it, I know what I need to improve to go to the next level.’
“Then it all came together when we got back to England in the first Champo game of the season at Bristol.
“To be honest, I’d come back from the tour thinking, ‘Have I improved?’, because when you’re constantly bowling at the likes of Root and Stokes and people in the nets, and the ball’s not doing much, you feel like a bowling machine because they’re just so good.
“But I took 4-19 from 14 overs in the first innings at Bristol, and I realised that I had improved because bowling at the likes of Root and Stokes makes your margin for error so small that you just get better naturally from bowling at them.
“Your length and line has got to be perfect and, if you get a forward-defensive off them, then you know you’re living in the right spot and bowling at good pace.
“I went to bed that night in Bristol feeling really confident about my game but, unfortunately, two days later my back was hanging off.
“I knew what it was because I’d had one (a back stress fracture) when I was 20 or 21, so it was extremely annoying.”
Once again, Fisher dug deep, eventually returning for the final match of the 2022 season when he took another four-wicket haul in the return game against Gloucestershire at Headingley.
Then, after a successful winter with the Lions in Sri Lanka, he had his most productive campaign yet in the season just finished, both in terms of Championship appearances (nine) and wickets (28).
“When I came back to play for Yorkshire this year I was still like really aware and anxious of it,” said Fisher of the injury.
“That probably showed in my bowling at the time. But, as the season went on, I got a lot more confident because it was such a big injury and it does knock you back quite a long way.
“However, proving to myself that I can play nine games in a season, and 11 in a year (Fisher played two first-class matches for the Lions in Sri Lanka), is important and gives me a lot of confidence.”
It is why, as Fisher gets ready for his UAE trip, he is primarily concerned with backing up that work and keeping his name in the frame as opposed to focusing solely on playing for England.
“It’s just about going to Abu Dhabi and showing what I can do,” he said. “It’s not at the front of my mind (playing Test cricket again) because I don’t want to be disappointed if it doesn’t come; it’s kind of in the back of my mind while trying to do my best all the time and, if it does come, then it comes.
“But, credit to England, they’ve really stuck by me (Fisher recently received a new England development contract) and the messaging has been really supportive and clear. Hopefully, I can repay that faith.”