Australia A v England XI, Tour match, Hobart November 8, 2013

Gooch prefers his beef wellington

England's batting coach Graham Gooch has been variously described over the years as a fitness freak and a bit of a trencherman, so he was well qualified to provide an official response to all the delighted gossip over their leaked Ashes cookbook. It has attracted so much attention that if only the ECB had got it to the printers quickly enough, it could have been a big Christmas seller.

Examination of England's dietary demands, as well as being a classic piece of pre-Ashes malarkey, has helped to pass the time while the rain has tumbled down in Hobart. England might be well fed off the field, but they are existing on meagre rations off it as rain threatens to hamper their preparations for the first Test.

Gooch, not quite patting his stomach as he said it, remarked: "I was a bit disappointed actually that beef wellington and jam roly-poly were not on that list for me. The England team try to cover every angle for their preparation, and it's totally professional to be putting out a list of preferable foods if you can get them. So the nutritionist has done his job, and I think we're all very happy with that.

"It's the old saying - if you get the little things right, the big things will take care of themselves. It's just one little building block of everything you try to do to get a team prepared as well as you can to cross that white line."

Batting coaches, especially batting coaches with nearly 9,000 Test runs to their name, are naturally at liberty to eat whatever they like. The cookbook has even been praised by a leading Australian chef or two, but it might not necessarily be in Gooch's jacket pocket as he peruses Hobart's restaurants. "I'm not sure the recipes are on my list in the eating establishments I go to," he said. "That's probably why my waistline is like it is."

Jibes that England's players are in danger of becoming automatons, their freedom of choice suppressed in the search for perfect preparation, have unsurprisingly been heard. Stuart Broad, predictably, got slightly punchy about it after he and Matt Prior had passed the night at a Hobart cinema. "I had some salted popcorn in the cinema if anyone's interested.... Nah thought not," Broad tweeted.

(It was not actually that rebellious, if you believe popcorn.org, which describes popcorn as a "good for you" food, a whole grain containing energy-producing complex carbohydrates, low in fat with no artificial additives." Well, apart from the salt. The salt might have to be discussed).

Prior did not enjoy the film. He dismissed The Counselor, Cormac McCarthy's first film script at the age of 80, as not worth seeing. England would have been better asking for a private screening of The Road, based on a novel by McCarthy, which tells of a post-apocalyptic time when any morsel of food is worth scavenging. Even an ECB nutritionist would be grabbing whatever he could.

The media, as ever, has little chance of achieving the same dietary ambitions. Photos have been posted of the rules in the Bellerive Oval press box - one plastic sandwich container and muffin per person apparently. There have also been moans about room service options in some of Hobart's finest hotels. That is before you consider the effects of the alcohol - necessary to contend with Hobart's biting winds.

Quite how the media gets the energy together to write stories about England Ashes cookbooks in such circumstances is a minor miracle.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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