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Crunch Time

Mohammad Amir: 'Saeed Ajmal is a brilliant cook'

The Pakistan fast bowler on eating to stay fit, introducing team-mates to Pakistani cuisine, and the best cricketer-chef he knows

Interview by Barny Read
Mohammad Amir holds his daughter, England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Lord's 4th day, May 27, 2018

"I eat at McDonald's once a week, because my daughter loves it and I have to eat with her"  •  Philip Brown/Getty Images

In a new series,Crunch Time, we look for more literal answers to the age old question - what fuels a cricketer?
What's the one meal you're most likely to eat over and over during the week?
I love Turkish food. I can eat that every day. It's grilled food, it's healthy and it's good recovery food. I like the mixed grills the most.
One dish you're really good at cooking or really like cooking for yourself?
No way, I can't make anything! I'm too lazy in this, I can't even make tea.
Which of your team-mates is the best cook?
Some of the players are very good. I remember playing the T20 World Cup in West Indies in 2010. Saeed Ajmal was a very good cook. He made dal and I can't remember what else, but it was beautiful. Very tasty. We were struggling to find halal food, but the hotel let us make our own food and Saeed bhai was brilliant in that.
What's a typical meal for you on match days in league tournaments? Is it different from when you're playing a Test?
I love Turkish and Lebanese food and mostly eat that when I come to Dubai. There's no fat, so I can get carbs and proteins. Somewhere like the BPL, I'll go with white rice and dal makhni. I like that in Bangladesh, but mostly I'll eat vegetarian food in Bangladesh. When I'm back in Pakistan, my wife is a good cook so I can eat pasta, mashed potatoes with chicken steak...
As a sportsperson, I believe breakfast is very important and you have to eat something, otherwise you're going to struggle the whole day. I always eat on time. I do breakfast around 7.30 to 9.00AM, then lunch from 12 to 2PM and dinner around 8:30 to 9:30pm. I have to eat on time. As a professional, you spend your day at the ground, in the gym or at training and you have to make sure you recover on time.
You have to manage yourself. You know your body and what it requires. During Test matches or ODIs, I won't have any kind of heavy lunch if I'm bowling, and maybe I will [have] protein shakes or I might have a little bit of fish and mashed potato before bowling. When you eat rice and chicken and stuff, you feel heavy so you can't express yourself on the ground, you get lazy, so mostly during the games I eat protein.
Which is your favourite country to eat out in when on tour?
Dubai and London. In London you can get any kind of food so I love going there. Dubai is similar; you can find anything. The most difficult country is the West Indies as it's difficult to find halal food.
One Pakistani speciality you'd like to introduce to team-mates from other countries?
Most of the players know about biryani and mutton karahi. Chadwick Walton has been playing for Karachi Kings and he loves Pakistani food. He eats everything in Pakistan!
Is there something you really love to eat but have removed from your diet as part of a fitness regimen?
I do like mutton karahi, but you have to make sacrifices and that's one [to go]. I could eat ice-cream every day but I can't. I love ice-cream. Chocolate flavour.
What sort of fast food is okay to eat as a professional sportsperson?
I can eat McDonald's once in the week, because my daughter loves McDonald's and I have to eat with her. I get the Filet-O-Fish.
When on tour, do you stick to eating certain types of meals? Is there a snack that you always carry in your kit bag when touring?
My protein shakes and electrolytes. I have to have them in my bag.
If you could reward yourself with a cheat meal after a five-for, what would it be?
Biryani. But only if my wife is cooking for me. She's a good cook and she makes a very good biryani.
What is your favourite pre/post-workout snack?
Club sandwich. With white bread, not brown.