Sussex CCC's Chris Nash on his upcoming trip to Cape Town to work with Gary Kirsten.

by Chris Nash in ,


Next week I leave the icy weather here in England and head to the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa.  I can't wait to get out there for 5 weeks of warm weather training and get some valuable match practice as the temperatures hit the early 30s!
Heading out with me is my Sussex team mate Ben Brown, I'm really hopeful he takes lots of sunscreen out with him otherwise he will be returning a very bright shade of red.

Having played and trained in Cape Town for 2 of the last 3 winters I know it well and the facilities out there for cricket and fitness training are second to none.  The highlight of my 5 weeks will be working with Gary Kirsten.  Gary is one of the top coaches in world cricket with a cv to match anyone in the game.  Having worked with him and his academy last year it is great to link up for 3 sessions a week and we hope to build that relationship, following his visit to pure cricket last summer we hope to have him back again next summer.

The last 3 months have been extremely intense physically, the coaches and trainers at Sussex have pushed us to our limits in the gym, on the training pitches and in the indoor school as we aim to become the fittest team in county cricket.  Having had a tough year last year we have identified this as a big area for improvement and it has been a very intense period.  One of the great things about heading to Cape Town is the use of some of the best gyms in the world.  One of the most popular methods of training is the sweat1000 classes that everyone is doing, for me they are the perfect balance between building cardio fitness and improving your strength and movement. Can't wait to get back into them!

Having done so much volume pre Xmas it gives us a chance to continue to build on that whilst working on our cricket skills as the season approaches.

Personally I have been batting for 2 weeks now and working on getting my basics right so I can build towards the season.

When training in the off season it is so vital to make sure each session is specific to your aims.  I will do technical sessions where I may drill my basic technique, also test myself against bowlers or a coach.  I will also do skill development sessions where I will identify a shot or area I want to access and I will then work only on that for a session.  This could be the sweep shot or hitting over the top.

It is important to begin each session with a clear goal and not confuse skill development with method/technique sessions.

For most people, not picking up a cricket bat since the season is really refreshing. I would urge everyone to keep everything as simple as possible and not complicate the way they bat.  If you can have solid basics your game will always be consistent and improve no matter what level you play at.

Enjoy the cold!


Look after your wheels

by Mark Nash in , ,

Over the past few weeks I did an interesting social experiment, on myself, completely by accident.  I spend most of the day on my feet at work whilst also (sometimes) training!  For as long as I can remember I've worn Asics trainers, but a few weeks ago got hold of some nice, bright orange Adidas ones!  They looked cool but to be honest didn't feel great; Adidas come up a little smaller and narrower than Asics and also didint have the same medial structural support.

They felt a little weird and my feet got tired, I also started getting plantar fasciitis and some lower back soreness.  I (sort of) figured this would happen but hoped it would be ok.  Having spent 12 years as a strength & conditioning coach and personal trainer footwear has always been a conversation ive had; what type to wear and how long etc.  Then there's the people who come back from holiday or a weekend with acute lower back problems and you find they've walked ten miles in flip flops!  My point here is (apart from me being an idiot) that what you put on your feet is massively important to how the body performs.  Therefore as cricketers, we should spend more time thinking about what we put on our feet.


For a game that (at the pinnacle) is played over 5 days, and even at amateur level a stupidly long 7 hours, a lot of injuries could be prevented through more attention to footwear.  Not only could localised issues in the ankle and Achilles area be avoided but further up the chain in the knee, hip, lower back and further.  We generate our power from the ground upwards, hence the Importance of a strong, stable base when playing.  If we have alignment issues from the bottom this can transfer negatively up the chain.  

We also need to take into account that we may need several different types of footwear depending on what surface we play and train on (indoors, AstroTurf, grass).  Each surface has different qualities - indoor halls are harder than astro and grass for example.


We spend a lot of time (and money) on our kit and spikes aren't cheap (neither are trainers) but shouldn't we spend a little more time focusing on what shoe will be best for us? 

Specialist running shoe shops now have dedicated podiatrists and fancy computer software to help you decide which shoes will most suit you, a simple gait analysis will help decide.  

For me, the best thing to do, if you are serious about your cricket is to see a sports physiotherapist, they will be able to look at your gait and posture as well as any significant weaknesses to guide you towards the correct footwear.  If you need several different types then try to ensure these are all similar types and styles and don't make decisions based on colour or which top player advertises them!

The 2016 season starts now!! 






Diet and Nutrition for optimal performance

by Mark Nash

High performance superfoods

These types of foods are high in nutrients and can help your body achieve peak performance.  Try to include as many of these foods as you can as part of your daily eating habits.

Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Broccoli. Porridge oats, spinach or green leafy veg, tomatoes, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, green tea, oranges, low fat milk, low fat flavoured milk, chickpeas, beetroot, low fat fruit yoghurt, eggs, mackerel, sardines, salmon, peppers, liver, dark chocolate


 The 'dirty 30' - try to limit!

These foods are either high in fat, sugar or both.  Be sensible when making the choice to eat or drink foods such as these.  Work hard to limit them to the odd occasional treat.

Sugary breakfast cereal, donuts, fizzy drinks, French fries, chips, crisps, deep fried wedges, onion rings, king size chocolate bars, monster energy drink, redbull, alcohol, cheese, fast food, luxury ice cream, pies, pasties, cakes, fried chicken, crispy bacon, sausages, salami, pepperoni, Caesar dressing, thick take away milkshakes, cookies, hot dogs, large latte/mocha style drinks, full fat cream

Trained hard?  Follow these steps to maximise your recovery


• Consume carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes of exercise - rapid refuel

• Eat a balanced meal (carbs, protein, veg) within 2-3hrs after exercise - refuel & relax

• Drink a glass of milk or eat 1 low fat yoghurt 45-60mins before bed - rebuild your body whilst you sleep


Muscle fuel:

Pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, chickpeas, whole grains, porridge oats

Brain food:

Oily fish, blueberries, black currants, water, broccoli

Muscle growth:

Lean chicken, turkey, beef, fish, quinoa, eggs, milk, walnuts, almonds

Body protection:

Raspberries, broccoli, carrots, tomato, beetroot, spinach, probiotics

Chris Nash's blog: The season starts here!

by Mark Nash in ,

Potentially the most exciting part of the season, March is always a great time as everyone gets back together and cricket is all encompassing once more.  Nothing beats seeing the outfield looking resplendent in the early spring sunshine and with only a month before our first championship match, the anticipation around Hove is contagious.  

The day after my return from Capetown was Luke Wright's benefit lunch at the Grand hotel in Brighton.  It was good to see the boys again and after a morning of fitness tests, we were able to relax and enjoy what was a fantastic event.

As is customary at these days, I was tasked with running the opening gambit of 'heads or tales'.  This is an incredibly simple, yet fun introduction to the day and involves different questions involving Luke being asked to the guests, this year i decided to get my own back after years of abuse from him and throw in a few more exciting questions!!

I spent most of the day sitting next to the legend Andrew Strauss who had some great insights into the England teams performances, it was unfortunate I didn't get to say goodbye as after a brief conversation at another table I returned to my seat to find him gone!  Hopefully it wasn't my pestering for a job at Sky TV? I'm sure he'll call me back at some stage!

After a tough winter abroad training and playing we are all now back working hard and formulating our plans for the summer and methods for success!  Last week we were especially privileged to have a day with the East Sussex Fire Brigade.  It was fantastic to see how they train and work as a team and the leadership qualities that were on display, all the guys walked away having learnt a huge amount and gained so much more respect for the way they go about their business.

Back at Hove we have been developing our strategies for the different formats and it's great to have Mahela Jayawardene on board for the first part of the T20, it looks like he's sitting next to me in the changing room so I'm looking forward to chewing his ear for a few weeks about the art of batting!  (Hopefully not so much that he leaves prematurely!)

Very lucky to Mahela Jayawardene for the first part of our T20 campaign

Very lucky to Mahela Jayawardene for the first part of our T20 campaign

The squad is looking strong and the boys are all up for what will be a great summer, we are off to Abu Dhabi this week for a ten day pre season tournament and some competitive matches across different formats!  There's definitely hope that on our return the English summer will have arrived early and fielding in April won't require 19 layers and a hat and gloves!!!

Hopefully we won't see any of this in Pre season!!! 

Hopefully we won't see any of this in Pre season!!! 

Our Easter camp at Horsham CC on 9/10th April will be fantastic and I hope to see lots of you there!


Become the king of spin -Sussex opening batsman Chris Nash gives us his thoughts

by Mark Nash

This might seem like a generalisation but as a country (England!) we aren't that good at playing spin bowling.  During our camp last week we asked the 22 boys and girls who they thought were the best players of spin in the world.  Their answers?  De Villiers, Clarke, Finch, Gayle.  Not many English players feature there, which may be due their World Cup performance to date, or not!

Aaron Finch playing a scoop shot - brilliant strong base with his head still

Aaron Finch playing a scoop shot - brilliant strong base with his head still

All those big names have different ways of playing spin, and doing it pretty well.  Watching briefly the SA v India match on Sunday it was interesting for the time Ab de Villiers and Faf Du Plessis batted together against Ashwin and Jadeja.  Both were very obviously trying to score of every ball and used their feet to get down the wicket and back in their crease excellently.  They weren't smashing the ball out of the park, but manipulating the strike and trying to put the pressure back onto India.  Once AB was run out Miller came in, and from ball one he was sweeping the ball for 1,2 and 4 runs.  This was a great example of players knowing where, and how they will score against bowlers.

 I sat down with Chris Nash, the Sussex CCC opening batsman and got his thoughts on playing spin...


Pure Cricket:  Hi Chris, so how come we are not so good at playing spin in this Country?

Chris Nash:  English cricket has a fractious relationship with playing spin.  Wickets in the northern hemisphere tend to favour seam and our young batters are raised on a diet of medium pace seam and swing bowlers.  This makes the English series win in India two years ago an even more remarkable feat but also highlights the huge changes in a young English batsmans upbringing.

Pure:  Have you seen changes recently in the way players are practicing?

CN:  Yes, without a doubt!  Young players are now constantly being taken away to Asian countries to hone their skill against spin bowlers on dry, dusty wickets.  Having spent 2 periods of 2 weeks in India facing exclusively spin bowling I can say it makes a huge difference to how I approach playing spin bowling on all wickets.  The new techniques I was exposed to; batting without pads, a thinner bat, wickets that were roughed up, and other distractions to increase the intensity have all been valuable learning curves in my technique against spin.

Pure:  What ways can we learn from this over here?  How do you approach playing spin?

CN:  Spin is viewed in several different ways in the UK.  Some believe it should be smashed to all parts and they shouldnt be allowed to bowl, others believe you should never get out to spin and hence never play a shot in anger!  

I like to break down playing spin into different categories:

Method - This is the most important part of batting in all forms of the game against any bowler.  Technique varies  among players however, all those who have had success have a very strong method, (or variety of methods) which they use to score runs against spin.

One of the main objectives of a batter is not to allow a spinner to settle into a rhythm and exert pressure on you.  This needs to be done in a calculated and measured way.  Using your feet does not have to be a method to smash the ball for 6, it can disrupt the bowlers length at a low risk.  In using your feet you can force the bowler to drop short which enables a back foot shot to be played.  

It is also important to understand that sometimes you may have to take a risk against a bowler, if you practice and know when to do it then you have a valuable weapon in your armoury.  When a spinner is bowling well and building pressure on you, having as many tools at your disposal as possible will make you successful.

Technique- A key principle when facing spin is to avoid playing a ball of 'good' length.  This type of delivery would be a ball bouncing up to hit the top third of the bat in a defensive shot.

The majority of balls should either be played:

(a) as close to the bounce as possible on the front foot 


(b) as far away from the ball as possible on the back foot

If we split playing spin into these 2 types of shots we are always playing with an intent to move quickly and to apply pressure onto the bowler.  We have all seen players prod about for 2/3 overs and then have a big swing with no control and hit it straight up in the air!

AB De Villiers reverse sweeping - strong base, head still and level at contact

AB De Villiers reverse sweeping - strong base, head still and level at contact

 Pure:  Very interesting, so once a player has developed a sound method and technique, what then?

CN:  The aim is to avoid poor judgement and pressure by playing games of 'cat and mouse' with the bowler, where are the fielders?  what gaps can we hit at the lowest risk? How can we put the bowler under pressure?  Once we start thinking about what we are doing, practising our shots and when to use them, we are starting to formulate clear game plans to score consistently and at low risk against spin bowling of all types.  The players that work these parts out the quickest are he ones that prosper!

During our next camps in April I will be running a masterclass on playing spin which I hope will prepare you all for having huge success against spin in the 2015 season!  Good luck!

 Pure:  Thanks Chris, let's hope we see lots of runs scored against spin this summer!