Chris Tremlett winces as he remembers his unwanted impact on a fellow fast bowler that could easily have scuppered one of the greatest of all England Ashes victories.
‘We were put in a boxing ring to spar against each other and for some reason I was up against Jimmy Anderson,’ said Tremlett recalling England’s somewhat unconventional training camp in Germany ahead of the fabled 2010-11 success.
‘It was 20 seconds of trying to whack the s*** out of the other guy and I hit Jimmy pretty hard and cracked one of his ribs. Luckily he was able to quickly come back because it would have been a disaster if he hadn’t been able to bowl in the first couple of Tests. Jimmy was probably 25kgs lighter than me at the time. I should have been up against Matt Prior or KP. It wasn’t the greatest idea.’
It is 10 years Chris Tremlett joined England’s Test side ahead of an Ashes tour in Australia
Remarkably, he nearly sidelined Jimmy Anderson for the 2010-11 Ashes series due to a boxing match during an unconventional England training camp that was held in Germany
Since the end of his cricketing career, Tremlett has undergone a remarkable transformation
Anderson can only count himself fortunate that England are not staging a re-match on the 10th anniversary on Wednesday – the start of what became the greatest time of an international career for Tremlett that promised much but was badly hampered by injury.
For England’s record wicket-taker might easily suffer far more serious damage now if he dared step in the ring with a figure unrecognisable from the gentle giant Tremlett represented during his time with England, Hampshire and Surrey.
Now Tremlett, at 39, looks far from gentle having taken up weight training since his retirement five years ago and bulking up his 6ft 8in frame to the point where he would not look out of place competing in the world’s strongest man competition.
‘I’m four stone bigger now than I was then,’ Tremlett told Sportsmail. ‘When I was playing cricket I was 105 kilos but I’m probably between 125-130 now. It is a bit of a Bryson Dechambeau physique change. Some people retire and then let themselves go but this is something I enjoy. It’s my hobby.’
It is a hobby that has transformed the figure of a man now carving out a successful second career as a property consultant. ‘I like lifting weights and seeing how heavy I can go,’ said Tremlett. ‘I am limited because I did have so many injuries playing cricket and I have to be careful. I am a big bloke but I have a fragile body and the main problem is my back. That’s why I retired in the end. My body was saying no to cricket much of the time.’
Tremlett, who is 6ft 8in, says that he is now four stone bigger than he was as a cricketer
Tremlett is mindful of how he handles weight training after the stresses of bowling on the body
For all Tremlett’s successes, he had numerous fitness issues to contend with in his career
Bowling certainly took its toll on the old Tremlett. ‘I must have had more than 150 MRI scans and well over a hundred cortisone injections,’ he revealed. ‘It was ridiculous. Those are things people don’t see. It felt like I was always in a hospital waiting room and mentally that weighs you down. But it was all worth it for that Ashes series.’
Ah yes, the 2010-11 Ashes when England under Andrew Strauss won three Tests by an innings against a still great Australian side. Tremlett played a big part in two of them having come into the team for the third Test at the expense of the injured Stuart Broad.
‘Is it really 10 years ago? It feels like yesterday,’ said Tremlett. ‘I’m sat in my office now and I‘ve got stumps from the Melbourne and Sydney Tests framed. They were special times. It still seems surreal but every Christmas and New Year people tag me in footage from then and the memories come flooding back.
‘At that stage in my career I’d been plagued by injury and I’d been in and out of the England side. I knew I had the talent and at that time I felt I was bowling the best I‘d ever done. I was still very nervous when I was given my chance in Perth but I took the wicket of Phil Hughes in my first over and I took that forward.’
It all culminated with Tremlett claiming the wicket of a tail-ender called Michael Beer in Sydney that has a special place in English cricket history because it completed the third of those victories and gave Strauss’s team a 3-1 series win.
Tremlett celebrates the series clinching wicket of Michael Beer (right) in Sydney in 2011
Tremlett (second left, top row) celebrates England’s commanding Ashes triumph in Australia
‘I remember being pretty tired running up to bowl that ball because it was the culmination of five days hard graft and two months trying to win the Ashes,’ said Tremlett. ‘And then when it hit the stumps it was a feeling of ‘God we have done it’.
‘Then we went back on the outfield afterwards to have a beer and talk about our journey. It was a moment that can never be repeated and it’s what you remember when you retire. You don’t give a damn about how many wickets you took or what your average was. It is that moment that made all the injuries I suffered worthwhile.’
Now Tremlett does his best to avoid injury in his second sporting pursuit by ruling out the competitiveness that could have come with his weight gain. ‘I’m not a body-builder and I’m not trying to be a strength athlete,’ he insisted.
‘I don’t have any aspirations to stand on a stage with a pair of pants on flexing my muscles. It’s not really my thing. I like to do this my own way. I don’t take steroids because it’s an unhealthy thing to do and that’s not really the route I’m going down. I’m just trying to improve and we’ll see what happens.’
There was a time when Tremlett was even bigger than he is now. ‘For a couple of years I just basically tried to get as big as I possibly could and that involved not caring if I got fat,’ he said. ‘I was just trying to put on as much size and muscle as I could and to do that you do have to eat an obscene amount of calories if you’re a big guy like me.
‘I was eating around 8,000 calories a day and I did find taking in that amount quite hard work. Some people are like ‘that’s a dream’ but after a while it does become difficult. You stop enjoying food so a lot of those calories came from breaking it down and blending it and making high calorie shakes to get them in at the right time. There were times when I was eating rubbish as well just to get the calories in. I got to around 135 kilos but I didn’t feel particularly great with it.
‘It got to the point where we had a baby (fiancée Kimberly is a keen trainer too) and I wanted to feel fitter again so I kept up all the strength stuff but leaned down a bit. To keep this weight I have to eat 4,000 calories a day and when I was playing cricket I was probably only eating 2,500 to 3,000.’
Now, Tremlett has little involvement in cricket but is curious what his son will think of the sport
Now Tremlett, 39, works as a property consultant and his weight training is his hobby
So could that gentle giant of a fast bowler have gained more menace if he had been more muscly back in his cricketing days? ‘People comment on my pictures and say ‘you must bowl 95 miles per hour now’ but I’m like ‘no’,’ he insisted.
‘I still play a couple of games a year and bowl off five or six paces and I can still get it down there. I’m still hitting the gloves pretty hard so I don’t think I’m too far off where I could bowl when I finished. I’m probably around 80mph but I don’t think I’d be able to bowl off my full run now. I’ve probably got two or three overs in me then I’m done.’
And Tremlett’s only real cricketing interest now is wondering whether his two-year-old son Theo might become the fourth generation of his family to play the game at first-class level after grandfather Maurice and dad Tim.
‘My lad might be a catalyst for getting back into the game when he starts getting a bat and ball out,’ added Tremlett. ‘Otherwise I’m not involved in the game anymore. It was quite daunting when I first came out of cricket but me and another guy at Surrey Tom Jewell set up a company called Source Investment and I’ve enjoyed throwing myself into a completely different field.
‘It was strange at first to introduce myself as a property consultant when I’d been an England cricketer but it feels normal now. Just as weight training and staying fit feels normal to me and I’ll try to take it a little bit further as I approach 40 and beyond. And at the very least it’s nice staying out of hospitals.’