Interview: Keeping Fit with Ben Scott
16 January 2013
When you’ve been a cricketer for well over a decade and a half, and you’ve devoted your entire working life to reaching and maintaining a level of physical fitness that most of us mere followers of the game could only dream of reaching, you’d be excused for thinking that when the time came to hang up the gloves, you would allow yourself a little time to just chill out, kick back and get used to life post cricket at a slightly slower and less exhausting pace…………right?
Well no, Ben Scott, Middlesex’s hugely popular ex-wicketkeeper batsman, has done the complete opposite.
Since leaving Middlesex in 2011 and heading up to New Road to join up with Worcestershire for a couple of years, Scotty has since made a welcome return to Middlesex, and is currently working with the squad up at the club’s Academy in Finchley, plus he has embarked upon an exciting new chapter in his life, which is keeping him extremely busy to say the very least.
I caught up with Ben this week in London, to find out just what he’s been up to since Graham Onions became the last of his three hundred and two First-Class victims up in Chester-le-Street for Worcestershire last August…………
Steve Fletcher: So Scotty, it’s great to see you again, how has life been treating you since you’ve hung up the gloves?
Ben Scott: It’s been great Fletch, although my feet haven’t really touched the ground in truth. If anything, life has been far more frenetic since I finished playing the game last summer. As a pro cricketer, you get used to your life being quite regimented, with the club’s fixture schedule dictating most of your diary. After cricket you lose that, and you have to start to organise your own time, which after fifteen years of being told what to do and when to do it, takes a bit of getting used to if I’m honest.
SF: You played for Middlesex for eight years, although undoubtedly your finest hour must have been down at the Rose Bowl in 2008, when you were part of the Middlesex side that lifted the Twenty20 Cup. What recollections do you have of that cup campaign?
BS: I remember it like it was yesterday – what a great occasion the whole day was.
I was lucky enough to have played in every single group match on the way to the quarter finals, and in each of the knockout matches including the final itself, so I really felt like I’d played my part in helping us to lift that trophy.
I remember in the quarter final we looked dead and buried, before Malla hit that magnificent hundred to win us the game. That gave us so much confidence going into finals day! We felt that we were capable of beating pretty much anyone really, and so it proved. We played brilliantly on finals day, and thoroughly deserved to run out as winners. Our post match celebrations went on well into the early hours of the next day, so much so that I’m surprised I recall so much of it.
It was the club’s first trophy in fifteen years too, which for the players made it that little bit more special too. Brilliant memories and great to have then got to play our part in such an historic Stanford Series in Antigua, that came as our reward for winning the cup. Allan Stanford himself was clearly a bit of a rogue in hindsight, but he didn’t half know how to lay on a cricket tournament!
SF: Having got to experience such highs in your career, I guess you’re going to miss playing the game are you?
BS: Of course I will. When you’ve spent so much of your life committed to doing one thing, day in, day out, you kind of get used to life being that way, and it’s a great life being a cricketer, especially when you get to play in the Caribbean. I definitely miss playing the game itself, but I guess more than that, I miss the banter and the lads as much as anything. There’s nothing that can replace the banter you get in a tightly knit dressing room; it’s what keeps the spirits up and keeps the side together, even when times are hard.
SF: Are there any characters you particularly miss from the Middlesex dressing room? I’m guessing your great mates and the self-proclaimed kings of banter; David Nash and Tim Murtagh would be right up there?
BS: I’m lucky enough to still keep in contact with most of the boys from the old Middlesex dressing room, but yes, it’s hard to replace the endless banter that both Murts and Nashdog spit out on a daily basis. That said, avoiding Nashy’s jokes day in, day out, has probably kept me sane over the last few years.
I was lucky that my old teammate, big Al Richardson, was already part of the furniture at New Road when I moved up there, so that helped me fit right in, and much like the Lord’s dressing room beforehand, they were a good bunch of lads up there.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have met some great lads in cricket, and am fortunate enough to have managed to remain in contact with most of them.
SF: You clearly missed the boys a lot, as I hear that you’re now back with the Middlesex squad up at Finchley, albeit in a very different role to that which you occupied a couple of years ago as a player. What work are you doing with the club at the moment?
BS: Over the winter I was invited to come back to Middlesex and work with the squad on their fielding drills. Increasingly at the very top of the game, athleticism and prowess in the field are attributes that are making a real difference to winning and losing games, and since November I’ve been working closely with the Middlesex squad, to fine tune and hone their fielding skills. This combined with the strength and conditioning work the lads are doing with Luke Woodhouse and Andy Mitchell, has delivered huge improvement in all areas.
SF: Is there anything that you’re doing differently now, as a coach with the squad, in comparison to what you used to be put through as a player with Middlesex?
BS: Things have moved on a huge amount in a very short space of time really here at Middlesex. The support team that Angus and the management of the club have put together is second to none, meaning that the current Middlesex squad are so much better prepared for the rigours of the season ahead than ever before.
The notion of getting the squad back together in November for a close season boot camp wouldn’t have been heard of when I was starting out in the game, but this is commonplace now here at Middlesex, which can only be a good thing, as the lads are ready to hit the ground running when the season gets underway.
The fielding work I’m doing with the squad now is focussing on their agility, mobility and dynamic movement, and we’re seeing huge improvements in the lads in all key areas. I’d back this year’s Middlesex squad to be as sharp in the field as any side we’re going to go up against in all competitions.
SF: Sounds fantastic Scotty. What else have you been up to since heading back down to London from Worcestershire?
BS: Aside from working with the Middlesex team, I have taken the bold step of launching my own personal training company, which is already proving to be an extremely exciting and rewarding decision to have made.
Luckily I have always been very self-motivated, driven and dedicated, which are proving to be useful attributes as I make my way into the world of self-employment.
There are plenty of challenges ahead I’m sure, but these early stages are giving me plenty of encouragement to realise that I have definitely made the right decision.
SF: All sounds very exciting. Personal training – how did this come about?
BS: In truth, the roots of this decision go way back!
As a fresh faced pup, way back in 1998, I started out a career in the game playing under some hugely impressive cricketers, including the likes of Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash. When you’re playing with guys like this, it’s hard to make yourself stand out in a pure cricketing sense, so I made the decision that if I was going to get on in the game, I had to be different, and so I chose to be fitter and stronger than the rest.
Throughout my career this became a major focus of mine, so much so that with the help of the PCA, and with the understanding and support of those at Middlesex, I qualified as a Personal Trainer about five years ago in the winter months whilst still playing for the club.
Over the last five years, alongside cricket, I have continued my development in this area, and working closely with, and learning from numerous fitness coaches, physiotherapists, and trainers, my knowledge and experience in this field has continued to grow.
In fact my final year with the club as a Middlesex player saw me putting my personal training qualifications to good use, as throughout the close and pre-season I assisted the club’s Strength and Conditioning Coach with a number of fitness drills, as well as putting the boys through some intensive fielding exercises.
With the qualifications and experience I have gained over the years, I felt perfectly placed to launch my own personal training business, and begin to take on my own private clients.
SF: So where do you do your private work with your clients?
BS:I work out of a fantastic new gym facility in London. It’s called City Athletic. It’s a state of the art 5000 ft² facility right in the heart of the city, and offers high end performance and strength & conditioning facilities like no other gym in town. You really have to see the place to believe it, it’s so state of the art it’s incredible.
I’ve spent years in gyms of all kinds, but seriously this place is something else.
The guys who have set it up want to excel in everything they do, so they’ve got better equipment, better facilities, and they’ve collated a team of coaches and trainers to work with their clients in a unique and professional way.
It’s as close to a professional sports environment as you’re likely to find in any gym anywhere, with an atmosphere to match!
SF: So what kind of things do you do with you clients mate? If I came to you, what should I expect to receive?
BS: Well first and foremost (he says, with a big grin) we’d probably have to work on some nutritional issues with you Fletch, maybe cutting down on a few things, and then we’d start to tackle quite a lot of other areas. Most importantly, personal training is just what it says it is – it’s personal. You cannot put a one size fits all solution to training; it really is a bespoke thing. What works for one person, may not work with another, so my training programs are designed to be specifically for you! Having worked throughout my career with people on individual programs, I am able to apply this experience to all that I work with, which is giving them a huge benefit and is delivering amazing results.
I offer a lively, fresh and innovative approach to personal training, helping clients with weight loss, improving fitness, lifestyle analysis and strength and conditioning. With me it’s not all about untold hours of cardio work; it’s about finding a professional training regime that works for you, and helping you achieve your goals safely and efficiently.
SF: So what’s next for you Scotty?
BS: Well now I need to grow the business. Take on more private clients, and start to work with more people. I’ve already got a few clients on board, who I am working closely with at City Athletic and we’re well on the way to already seeing some incredible results.
I’d be delighted to be able to hook up with some old faces from my Middlesex days, so if there are any members or fans of the club out there who are keen to get in shape, reach a better level of fitness, or who wish to get themselves into peak physical condition, I’m all yours. I’d be most receptive to doing you a bit of a deal for old times’ sake too.
It doesn’t matter what condition you’re in to start with, it’s about where you want to end up, and I’d love to be able to help you get there. Often it’s not a lack of desire or intention that fails to get people where they want to be, it’s a lack of personal motivation or lack of understanding of how to get there. This is where I am able to really help.
SF: Scotty, it’s highly likely that your exploits with Worcestershire at Uxbridge last season, when you single handedly cost us a CB40 victory with your uncharacteristic six hitting may come back to haunt you! Can I suggest that any Middlesex members who come to see you and mention this, will get a hearty discount on your normal rates as some form of compensation!
BS: Ha-ha, yes mate, you can have my assurance on that one. Sorry!
SF: Thanks for your time Scotty. All the very best of luck with the new personal training venture, and also with the work you’re doing with the Middlesex squad too.
BS: Thanks mate, here’s to a successful year for one and all.
Ben Scott made over one hundred First Class appearances for Middlesex County Cricket Club, as well as over a hundred List-A appearances and just short of one hundred twenty20 appearances between 2004 and 2011.
Scott’s one hundred and ninety two First-Class victims see him positioned tenth in the all-time list of Middlesex wicketkeepers, whilst his one hundred and seven List-A victims see him lying fourth in the list of all-time List A wicketkeepers. Only three recognised wicketkeeper batsmen have a higher batting average than Scott, who finished his Middlesex career with a batting average of 26.31, including three First-Class centuries.