Rock star helps Weatherald find 'the magic zone'

The South Australian opener discusses his new-look training regimen and refreshed mental approach to the game

When Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello lamented that today's wannabe rock stars are not willing to work as hard as those from yesteryear, it's hard to imagine that he expected to gain the attention of a young South Australian opening batsman.

Known among teammates for thinking outside the box, Jake Weatherald took his passion for music to another level in isolation by following Morello's strict routine of spending eight hours a day practicing the guitar.

Image Id: B79ADBF0779348948BC8F791759C5947 Image Caption: Legendary guitarist Tom Morello // Getty

As Weatherald learnt, Morello's regime is intense. The first two hours are spent fine-tuning technique; practicing chords, finger progressions. Then there's two hours playing other people's songs; learning by mimicking. Then, two hours of playing your own stuff; writing and reading music, as well as practicing.

And the final two hours?

"He calls it 'the magic zone'," Weatherald explains. "You just do whatever you wanted."

Like Morello, who only began playing guitar aged 17, Weatherald has often felt like he has been a step behind his peers.

The dashing left-hander grew up in relatively remote Darwin before moving to Adelaide to complete his studies and admits he was "a pretty lazy cricketer" in his teenage years.

An increased work ethic saw him storm from Adelaide grade cricket into the Redbacks' first-class team shortly after his 21st birthday, turning heads when he fell four short of a century in the 2016 Sheffield Shield final against champions Victoria.

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But while Weatherald has not missed a game for South Australia since his debut, the time he spent playing the guitar after the abrupt end of the last Shield season helped him realise Morello had taught him something about cricket, too.

"He started playing guitar at 17, which is pretty late, and started training eight hours a day to catch up, which pretty similar to me," Weatherald says. "I've always been playing catch up to others who'd had solid groundings from a young age.

"So I did two weeks' worth of eight-hour-a-day training on guitar and realised, 'I should be doing this for cricket'."

Weatherald took the eight-hour rule to heart.

After sending his teammates videos of Morello, Weatherald roped in his Redbacks opening partner Henry Hunt, along with Will Bosisto and Brad Davis to an eight-hour batting program adapted to their craft.

Weatherald and his teammates would start at 8.30 in the morning at the Gillespie Centre indoor nets and, using taped-up tennis balls, bouncy balls, skinny bats in addition to more common cricket tools like dog-throwers and ball machines, kept going until it was dark outside.

The first two hours were spent working on general technique, followed by two hours of specific tactical practice, then two hours of match simulation or working on specific strokes.

"Then the last couple of hours was the magic," says Weatherald. "You could bat however you wanted to and it didn't matter about getting out."

Weatherald's alarming work rate did not escape the attention of teammates, nor did it only benefit his batting.

He set a record for the most consecutive chin ups in the Redbacks gym (20) while he ran a personal best two-kilometre time trial time of six minutes and 50 seconds.

"He went and hit God knows how many hours' worth of balls and I'm really proud of him for it," veteran batsman Callum Ferguson tells

"He felt like he had the time and the facilities in this pre-season to get in there and make every minute count.

"He's certainly a guy who thinks outside the box a lot, and he's been looking for inspiration from very unique places.

"He's flying, Weathers, and I'm looking forward to a big year from him."

While he had to scale some sessions back to a more manageable four hours (though still grueling given he was still contending with the Redbacks' regular pre-season workload) Weatherald believes he is better prepared than he’s ever been for a cricket season.

His technique has changed dramatically, he says, with a new focus on better aligning himself to face up to bowlers changing between over and around the wicket, and between left- and right-armers.

The 25-year-old has also spent considerable time trying to improve his mental approach to cricket, consulting with performance psychologists along with former Test batters Greg Blewett and Chris Rogers, the latter remaining a close mentor despite recently taking up the coaching role with rivals Victoria.

"I'm a firm believer in that nothing should ever be the same for the sake of being the same," says Weatherald. "If you're not growing, you're dying.

"People say in passing comments all the time that cricket is a mental game, yet I highly doubt that a lot of people spend a lot of time on (improving) it.

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"I started talking to psychologists and doing it three or four times a week and I feel that's been really beneficial to my overall game.

"I don't know whether it's going to work or not, but I feel like I've given myself the best chance."

And even despite his almost feverish dedication to cricket over the pre-season, Weatherald is still finding time to strum a tune.

"The reason I love music is because it's not really talent based, especially guitar. It's all based around technique," he explains.

"(Morello) says that no one is ever born with good technique playing the guitar, so it reaffirmed to me that with pure hard work, you could get to where you wanted to.

"If you want to unlock the magic, you've got to have the technique in the first place."