During the season, players have to stick to the tried and tested - whole grains, lean meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables. In the winter they can broaden their eating habits. Large, heavy meals are perfectly acceptable as players won't be expected to bowl 15 overs the following day.

The winter offers a great opportunity to fill muscles with gravy ahead of the coming season. Without gravy, muscles begin to atrophy - a process that actually takes place as the season wears on. In winter players should take on board as much gravy as possible to form a stockpile for the summer.

Animal fats are also a vital element of cricketers' winter cuisine. Beef dripping and rendered pork fat provide lubrication to joints and thus help combat injuries. The ideal winter breakfast for a cricketer would comprise sausages, bacon, black pudding, fried eggs and fried bread. It is also important to use lard when frying, as vegetable oils do not offer the same nutritional benefits. Grilling is highly inadvisable as precious fats are lost during the cooking process.

Despite what your mother told you, playing videogames is not a waste of time. Players aren't going to improve their reflexes in the gym or through running up hills, they're going to improve them by shooting zombies in their rotting faces. This pastime will also increase the heart rate, and thus doubles up as exercise.

Mental conditioning
As important as it is to get the body prepared for the new season, the mind is where the most productive work can be done over the winter months.

If a batsman has repeatedly been the victim of his own impatience during the season, now is the time to get to work. It is easy to build patience in the off season with weeks and weeks stretching out with not very much to do. Players can perform exercises like "just sort of sitting around waiting for six months". If they find themseves tempted to do something to alleviate the boredom, they shouldn't; they should just wait. When the season gets underway, the player will find himself dead-batting the morning session away without once being tempted to score a run. You can't buy that sort of unhurried attitude.

The other advantage of this particular exercise is that it helps players cope with the inevitable downs that will come their way during the season. As we all know, playing cricket isn't about scoring hundreds every time you go to the crease. Sometimes you'll fail and it's how you cope with failure that counts.

Winter offers the opportunity to have one, long down. My advice to players would be: Don't do anything. Don't go outdoors. Don't engage with society. Try and develop depression.

If you manage to overcome this crippling mental health problem, you will find you have gained great perspective and can easily shrug off dodgy lbw decisions.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. Please do not believe the things you read in this article and post irate comments