Schutt tears up the track after iso downtime
A lengthy break from bowling was a shock to the system for Megan Schutt, who is reaping the benefits of enforced time at home
4 August 2020, 01:40 PM AEST
Isolation has proved a blessing in disguise for Megan Schutt, with the Australia spearhead declaring herself in career-best shape after her longest-ever break from bowling.
After Australia took out the T20 World Cup in front of 86,174 fans at the MCG on March 8 and their tour of South Africa was subsequently postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schutt decided to see just how long she could go without picking up a ball.
While South Australia started preseason training in June, the swing bowler held out for another six weeks before finally rolling the arm over.
"It was four months and I could not breathe the next day, I was that sore," Schutt laughed.
"I knew it was coming, but I forgot how bad it was.
"I was like ‘holy crap, I can’t move my right shoulder, I can’t take a deep breath, I can’t laugh, this is beyond sore, I’m never stopping bowling again’.
"I wanted to push it out as late as I could because I’ll never get that break again.
"But it’s amazing how quickly you get used to it.
"I was nine out of 10 sore the next day, I was done for, and I’ve only had three bowls since and I’m fine now."
The break from bowling had more than one significant benefit for Schutt, who has battled knee, ankle and foot injuries through her career to become the world’s second-ranked T20I bowler, and third-ranked ODI bowler.
"It was also actually really nice to just not think about bowling," she explained.
"When you’re a cricketer you’re always thinking about it, whether you’re replaying old stuff or planning new stuff.
"But I hadn’t actually thought about bowling or missed it. I missed cricket, I missed fielding, but I didn’t miss bowling.
"Well… now I’m bowling again, I’ve realised maybe I did miss it a bit.
"But at the time I thought it was a good decision and it was really good for my body because of the injuries I’ve had – they’ve all been from bowling.
"My body is in the best condition it’s been in for a long time."
Spending a full winter at home in Adelaide for the first time in seven years has been a shock to the system for Schutt, who has either been based in Queensland, or on the road with the Australian squad during that period.
While she was avoiding the nets, the 27-year-old could not be accused of slacking off during the months of isolation before South Australia started preseason training in June.
Schutt shrugged off her intense dislike for cold and wet weather to embrace the running program she had been provided with, and produced a personal best when South Australia held a 2km time-trial in June.
"That was a surprise to all of us," Schutt laughed. "I was quite afraid as I’ve never done the 2km time trial just off running fitness, so the fact I hadn’t bowled or played cricket in two months before it meant I didn’t know what time I’d run.
"I thought if I could just run under nine minutes, I’ll be happy, but I got a PB of 8.22 which surprised everyone.
"I had been doing the running program that was set in the off-season so I thought I’d be okay, but I didn’t know I was going to be PB good.
"That was really good mentally and I think it’s made it easier for me to do all the other preseason training we’ve been going though.
"It’s not quite in the (top group) yet, seven more seconds and I’ll be at that benchmark."
Those seven seconds – which would get Schutt to a time of eight minutes and 15 seconds – prompted a cheeky message from Australia head coach Matthew Mott, and has ensured Schutt is now more motivated than ever to claim another record before the winter is up.
"There’s Motty jokingly going, ‘you couldn’t have just got another seven seconds?’," Schutt laughed.
"We have another time trial in (August) so when I run that, I’ll be trying my hardest to get there."
"My first 2km when I first came into the squad, I was unfit and it was (above 10 minutes).
"To get it down to this level is pretty cool. I’ve been under nine minutes for a few years but I’d never been able to really crack under 8.30 before June – and now to be just seven seconds off the benchmark, that’s a dangling carrot."
The added time at home has yielded two other major benefits for Schutt.
First, there has been valuable time at home with wife Jess and "the fur children" – golden retriever Eddie and rescue cat Whitney – after what was a demanding 12 months on the road for Australia’s top women (although Schutt admits it may make it all the harder to say goodbye again come Australia’s next tour, against New Zealand in September).
Then there has been the chance to spend a proper preseason with the South Australian squad she has been captain of for the past two years.
"This is probably the only break (from touring) like this we’re going to get for a very long time," Schutt said.
"It’s been bizarre to spend so much time with my team, but it’s really good to see how good our program is.
"I’ve been saying for a while we have a really good program down in South Australia, but we just haven’t had the success to reflect it.
"Actually being a part of it this preseason, I can see it’s so true and we’re very lucky.
"I’d speak to (coach) Luke Williams while I was on the road but it’s not the same and it’s been really nice.
"It gives me a real appreciation of the stuff the girls go through every year for preseason, all the running in the rain and the freezing cold."