Matthew Fisher made his professional debut at 15 in a YB40 match against Leicestershire at Scarborough to become the youngest post-war county cricketer. This season, he made his Twenty20 debut, returning the remarkable figures of 5-22 and decimating the Derbyshire Falcons. He has also represented Yorkshire twice in the County Championship, with former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor becoming his first professional red-ball victim.
DEC spoke to Fisher after Yorkshire’s final T20 Blast match of 2015 against the Birmingham Bears, in which he clean bowled New Zealand star Brendon McCullum and sealed his place as the Yorkshire Vikings’ leading wicket-taker in the competition.
DEC: How does it feel to get Brendon McCullum out?
MF: Oh, unbelievable. I didn’t know really how to celebrate it, but it’s great to be playing against these international players. In this competition there’s been a few around, [James] Faulkner at Lancashire, [Jos] Buttler played here as well, so it’s great to play against England and foreign players, yeah.
DEC: Did you have a plan to McCullum?
MF: Well we chatted a bit, we had a meeting before the game and we had names up of some of their players, and McCullum wasn’t on there. It was just before the end of the meeting that someone shouted up, “Oh, McCullum’s in their squad,” so we were like “Oh, dear.” So we just kind of said Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] had obviously played against him for Australia and their plan was just to hit the stumps and if he misses you hit, so that’s what we did!
DEC: What have you learnt from your first full season of T20?
MF: Oh, massive amounts. It’s been not the greatest for us as a team, but yeah it’s just we haven’t been specific enough in practice really, being honest with ourselves we’ve been poor in practice and we haven’t practised our yorkers or slower balls and that showed in the games, we didn’t execute our skills. The past couple of weeks we’ve been trying to nail that down, practising your yorkers, trying to do that every day in training, so yeah it’s just practicing specifically really.
DEC: You’ve become a death bowler for Yorkshire this year. How did that come about?
MF: Well in the second team I’d kind of done it alright before, and then just basically carried it on with the lads being rested in the first team for the Championship. So that was it, really.
DEC: You took 5-22 on debut against Derbyshire. What were your instructions from the coach?
MF: Nothing much, really. Dizzy [Jason Gillespie] always just says just to go out and enjoy it, and that’s what we did really. I just tried to have three different balls, bouncer, hard length and a yorker. That’s what I stuck to and it came off that night. It was brilliant, I couldn’t believe it. There’s times in your career that you just can’t really believe what’s happened and one of them was that day, and I’ll never forget that.
DEC: You made your one-day debut at 15. How did that come about?
MF: Well a week before we were at Leicester playing second team with Paul Farbrace, who’s with England now, and we played a one-dayer and a three-dayer, in the one-dayer I’d got six wickets. The philosophy is who’s playing well. So Dizzy would chat down to the second team coach, Farby at that point, he’d say “Who’s in the best form?” or “Who’s bowling the best?”, and Farby said me, so and they stuck with that and that’s what happened. If there was a seven-year-old or something in there and bowling better, they would still get him in if he’s bowling the best.
DEC: There’s a lot of expectation on you as a young player, being talked about for England. How do you cope with that kind of pressure?
MF: Yeah, it’s quite tough. It’s also very exciting, but you’ve just got to keep it calm and just keep coming every day and doing your thing. I try to ignore it really and yeah, just get on with doing what I’m doing, and then whatever comes along, comes along.
DEC: Do you get any advice from the other bowlers on how to cope with the pressure?
MF: Not really. It’s always good to have the bowling we have at the minute, especially in Championship cricket is unbelievable, and it’s great to learn from and only the other week when me and Siddy [Ryan Sidebottom] were bowling in the nets together and he was unbelievable, before he got all his wickets at Warwickshire, at Edgbaston. He was just unbelievable to watch and bowl with.
DEC: How do you balance training and playing for Yorkshire with your studies?
MF: It’s tough, but the school are great with it and the club as well. I study Maths, PE, Psychology. It’s quite tough, it got tough before the start of my exams because we had the pre-season tour, and then you come back and you’re busy with training and stuff, but you just try and do your best and hopefully come out with a few.
DEC: Do you have a favourite format of the game?
MF: I love all formats, but I still really like the longer format. Trying to suss a batsman out and see where his strengths are, where his weaknesses are, and just it’s good to try and build your overs and then hopefully get a wicket.
DEC: How’s your batting?
MF: It’s alright. I practise hard, I’ve scored a few runs for the second team this year but I just need to keep working really and that’ll do.
DEC: Would you rather be attacked by one horse-sized duck, or ten duck-sized horses.
MF: Can you say it again?
DEC: *repeats question*
MF: I’m not sure. The second one?