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, 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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jill on November 13, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    This piece is exactly what I want to read about. Modern cricket and its cricketers are so staid and micromanaged that articles poking a little bit of fun at it and them are entirely justified. One can only read so much selection speculation before THAT sends you to sleep.

    Gooch's quote is very good and of course there is the point: is it really worth it? It's cricket. Do they need to take a whole army of support staff with them? Personally, I don't think so. What a waste of money. Eat healthy, eat for performance. It doesn't have to be so streamlined.

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    David, don't listen to the philistines asking why this is on here. It's part and parcel of the cricket carnival. Certainly better than yet another article on whether Root should open, and what will happen of Bairstow. There are only so many ways the same stuff can be covered...

  • Phillip on November 9, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    Grt response.Mr Hopps.Personally I feel such inner titbits is also what makes sport worth following.

  • David on November 9, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Predictably, we have received a few comments questioning whether lightweight stories such as the England cookbook have any worth on Cricinfo. Contrary to suggestions, it has been highly popular. Yesterday, it also encouraged considerable debate on the underlying serious issue it raised: firstly, can England's professional approach to all areas of preparation teach Australia anything and secondly, can the attempt to maximise professional practice in cricket go beyond the bounds not just what is beneficial but what is practicable? That debate seems valid and was carried by ALL other UK and Australia newspapers and websites. Indeed, The Times even wrote a leader on it. I am fully aware It does not please every reader of Cricinfo, especially those who prefer their cricket, serious-minded and to concentrate exclusively on the game itself, but that type of reader remains highly valued and is lavishly served on a daily basis on many areas of the site. This follow-up piece on the England cookbook is obviously less valid, and just a bit of fluff, but it was available for those who want it and those who want more learned discussions can seek satisfaction elsewhere. England were also entitled to have their opinion recorded and it has been. David Hopps UK editor

  • W on November 9, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    "Quite how the media gets the energy together to write stories about England Ashes cookbooks in such circumstances is a minor miracle". You managed it David?

  • Jon on November 9, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Why is this even on here. Disappointing that this makes it onto a credible site.

  • David on November 9, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    Maybe you should change your diet, Paul - it would give you more energy to stop reading earlier.

  • nikhil on November 9, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    @Paul Atkinson: I actually dozed off after the first two paragraphs itself, so credit to you mate. But honestly, is anyone really interested in this kind of news? Please, if you journalists dont have much to write about, do not write at all; but please please dont waste our time with such articles. Its pointless, nobody cares, irrelevant to the central them of this website, and frankly trivial. Please publish.

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    I genuinely started to doze off three quarters of the way through this article.

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